The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
 TeasersiSteve Blog
Harold Bloom, RIP
🔊 Listen RSS
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information



=>

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New ReplyRead More
ReplyAgree/Disagree/Etc. More... This Commenter This Thread Hide Thread Display All Comments
AgreeDisagreeLOLTroll
These buttons register your public Agreement, Disagreement, Troll, or LOL with the selected comment. They are ONLY available to recent, frequent commenters who have saved their Name+Email using the 'Remember My Information' checkbox, and may also ONLY be used three times during any eight hour period.
Ignore Commenter Follow Commenter
Search Text Case Sensitive  Exact Words  Include Comments
List of Bookmarks

The Great Awokening was given a test drive in university English Departments in the late 1980s where, under the influence of Continental theorists like Foucault, it was considered fashionable to decolonize the Canon and throw out the Dead White Males. At the time, the Canon Wars received considerable coverage in the higher brow popular press, such as the New York Times Magazine and The Atlantic.

My suspicion was that much of the popularity of French Theory was due to English department academics trying to erect severe barriers to entry to their profession. Tenure track English professors are particularly in danger of competition from amateur adjunct professors who love great literature for being great literature: e.g., bright empty nest housewives, retired advertising copywriters, and the like. So by insisting upon the requirement the literature teachers be conversant in an ugly, graceless vocabulary of “theory,” you can drive away many people who would love to teach students about the most beautiful writing of history.

In retrospect, we can see that these c. 1990 Canon Wars were an important step in the Woke’s Long March Through the Institutions. But in the prestige press at the time, the Woke mostly lost, in part because the Great Writers of the Past really are great. For example, the theater kids on campuses continued to find Shakespeare a joy for their Let’s Put on a Show urges.

A titanic voice on the side of the Dead White Males in the late 20th Century was the most imposing literature professor of the time, Yale’s Harold Bloom. From the New York Times:

Harold Bloom, Critic Who Championed Western Canon, Dies at 89
Called the most notorious literary critic in America, Professor Bloom argued for the superiority of giants like Shakespeare, Chaucer and Kafka.

By Dinitia Smith
Oct. 14, 2019

Harold Bloom, the prodigious literary critic who championed and defended the Western canon in an outpouring of influential books that appeared not only on college syllabuses but also — unusual for an academic — on best-seller lists, died on Monday at a hospital in New Haven. He was 89.

His death was confirmed by his wife, Jeanne Bloom, who said he taught his last class at Yale University on Thursday.

Professor Bloom was frequently called the most notorious literary critic in America. From a vaunted perch at Yale, he flew in the face of almost every trend in the literary criticism of his day. Chiefly he argued for the literary superiority of the Western giants like Shakespeare, Chaucer and Kafka — all of them white and male, his own critics pointed out — over writers favored by what he called “the School of Resentment,” by which he meant multiculturalists, feminists, Marxists, neoconservatives and others whom he saw as betraying literature’s essential purpose.

… At the heart of Professor Bloom’s writing was a passionate love of literature and a relish for its heroic figures.

“Shakespeare is God,” he declared, and Shakespeare’s characters, he said, are as real as people and have shaped Western perceptions of what it is to be human — a view he propounded in the acclaimed “Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human” (1998). …

Professor Bloom was widely regarded as the most popular literary critic in America (an encomium he might have considered faint praise). Among his other best sellers were his magnum opus “The Western Canon: The Books and School of the Ages,” published in 1994, and “How to Read and Why” (2000).

That record of commercial success led many in the academy to dismiss him as a populist. …

Professor Bloom called himself “a monster” of reading; he said he could read, and absorb, a 400-page book in an hour. …

Armed with a photographic memory, Professor Bloom could recite acres of poetry by heart — by his account, the whole of Shakespeare, Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” all of William Blake, the Hebraic Bible and Edmund Spenser’s monumental “The Fairie Queen.” …

He quite enjoyed being likened to Samuel Johnson, the great 18th-century critic, essayist, lexicographer and man about London, who, like Professor Bloom (“a Yiddisher Dr. Johnson” was one appellation), was rotund, erudite and often caustic in his opinions. (Professor Bloom even had a vaguely English accent, his Bronx roots notwithstanding.)

Or if not Johnson, then the actor Zero Mostel, whom he resembled.

“I am Zero Mostel!” Professor Bloom once said. …

Professor Bloom crossed swords with other critical perspectives in “The Western Canon.” The eminent critic Frank Kermode, identifying those whom Professor Bloom saw as his antagonists, wrote in The London Review of Books, “He has in mind all who profess to regard the canon as an instrument of cultural, hence political, hegemony — as a subtle fraud devised by dead white males to reinforce ethnic and sexist oppression.”

Professor Bloom insisted that a literary work is not a social document — is not to be read for its political or historical content — but is to be enjoyed above all for the aesthetic pleasure it brings. …

Mr. Begley noted further, “The canon, Bloom believes, answers an unavoidable question: What, in the little time we have, shall we read?”

“You must choose,” Professor Bloom himself wrote in “The Western Canon.” “Either there were aesthetic values or there are only the overdeterminations of race, class and gender.”

… The books he loved would no doubt always find readers, he wrote, though their numbers might dwindle. But his great concern was that the books would no longer be taught, and thus become irrelevant.

“What are now called ‘Departments of English’ will be renamed departments of ‘Cultural Studies,’” he wrote in “The Western Canon,” “where Batman comics, Mormon theme parks, television, movies and rock will replace Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth and Wallace Stevens.

“Major, once-elitist universities and colleges,” he continued, “will still offer a few courses in Shakespeare, Milton and their peers, but these will be taught by departments of three or four scholars, equivalent to teachers of ancient Greek and Latin.”

 
Hide 265 CommentsLeave a Comment
Commenters to Ignore...to FollowEndorsed Only
Trim Comments?
  1. That record of commercial success led many in the academy to dismiss him as a populist. …

    I’ve known too many professors who made their own work mandatory reading in class and requires $300 to purchase at the student bookstore. That fact that he didn’t require a “captive audience” says a lot.

  2. Armed with a photographic memory, Professor Bloom could recite acres of poetry by heart — by his account, the whole of Shakespeare, Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” all of William Blake, the Hebraic Bible and Edmund Spenser’s monumental “The Fairie Queen.” …

    I can believe memorizing Shakespeare’s literary corpus, Paradise Lost, and The Hebrew Bible. But all of William Blake and The Faerie Queene ? I think that Bloom was gilding the lily, as it were.

    Still, that being said, I’ve always appreciated Bloom for his defense of aesthetic values. And I fondly recall poring through his introductions in the Chelsea House collections (compilations of critical essays on canonical authors, works, and, in a distinctly Bloomian touch, literary characters) back in my High School days.

    Ave atque vale, Professor Bloom. You will be missed.

    • Replies: @Charles Erwin Wilson 3

    Still, that being said, I’ve always appreciated Bloom for his defense of aesthetic values....
    Ave atque vale, Professor Bloom. You will be missed.
     
    Agree, and join in your salutation Ave atque vale which Bloom richly deserves.
    , @SFG
    Memorized Shakespeare for extra credit back in high school. Can still recite Hamlet's soliloquy from memory. Beautiful stuff.

    I can see someone who really liked literature memorizing huge chunks of it. Heck, that's what poets used to do before writing. You really do get to know the poem better.
    , @Alden
    Some people really can read extremely fast and remember most of it. A 400 page fiction or history book in an hour is not unusual. A 400 page book in an unfamiliar subject would take more time for me. But Bloom was obviously a lot smarter with a better memory than I.
    , @Alden
    My favorite poem is John Brown’s Body by Stephen Vincent Benet. It’s a book length saga poem about the civil war. I still remember. That war was such a tragedy. It’s a beautiful saga.

    Sally Dupree Sally Dupree
    Her eyes were neither black nor gray.
  3. The decline in overall IQ will kill Shakespeare study in the US. If everyone doesn’t appreciate Shakespeare, then Shakespeare will have to go. They will disguise this with the normal multi-culti “we need art that speaks to the student” mumbo jumbo.

    • Agree: fish, Mr McKenna
    • Replies: @advancedatheist
    Ironically Karl Marx grew up classically educated, and reportedly as an adult he maintained enough fluency to read Aeschylus’ tragedies in the original Greek for pleasure. Not to mention that he could also recite Dante, Shakespeare and Goethe from memory. Many of the early communists similarly put the effort into cultivating their minds with Western literature, music and art. Even Che Guevara, from a later generation, grew up in an educated family with a large library in the household, and reportedly he read voraciously and kept notebooks about the ideas he found in his reading.

    By contrast, the heirs of the leftist tradition who try to engineer our culture these days just don’t come across as cultivated and thoughtful people who could discuss ideas competently. For example, Ta-Nehisi Coates, a current celebrity “intellectual,” admitted in an interview a few years ago that he had never heard of St. Augustine.
    , @syonredux
    Here's a nice piece by Bloom on the erosion of critical standards:

    Dumbing down American readers
    By Harold Bloom, 9/24/2003

    THE DECISION to give the National Book Foundation's annual award for "distinguished contribution" to Stephen King is extraordinary, another low in the shocking process of dumbing down our cultural life. I've described King in the past as a writer of penny dreadfuls, but perhaps even that is too kind. He shares nothing with Edgar Allan Poe. What he is is an immensely inadequate writer on a sentence-by-sentence, paragraph-by-paragraph, book-by-book basis. The publishing industry has stooped terribly low to bestow on King a lifetime award that has previously gone to the novelists Saul Bellow and Philip Roth and to playwright Arthur Miller. By awarding it to King they recognize nothing but the commercial value of his books, which sell in the millions but do little more for humanity than keep the publishing world afloat. If this is going to be the criterion in the future, then perhaps next year the committee should give its award for distinguished contribution to Danielle Steel, and surely the Nobel Prize for literature should go to J.K. Rowling.
     

    What's happening is part of a phenomenon I wrote about a couple of years ago when I was asked to comment on Rowling. I went to the Yale University bookstore and bought and read a copy of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." I suffered a great deal in the process. The writing was dreadful; the book was terrible. As I read, I noticed that every time a character went for a walk, the author wrote instead that the character "stretched his legs." I began marking on the back of an envelope every time that phrase was repeated. I stopped only after I had marked the envelope several dozen times. I was incredulous. Rowling's mind is so governed by cliches and dead metaphors that she has no other style of writing.
     

    But when I wrote that in a newspaper, I was denounced. I was told that children would now read only J.K. Rowling, and I was asked whether that wasn't, after all, better than reading nothing at all? If Rowling was what it took to make them pick up a book, wasn't that a good thing?
     

    It is not. "Harry Potter" will not lead our children on to Kipling's "Just So Stories" or his "Jungle Book." It will not lead them to Thurber's "Thirteen Clocks" or Kenneth Grahame's "Wind in the Willows" or Lewis Carroll's "Alice."
     

    Later I read a lavish, loving review of Harry Potter by the same Stephen King. He wrote something to the effect of, "If these kids are reading Harry Potter at 11 or 12, then when they get older they will go on to read Stephen King." And he was quite right. He was not being ironic. When you read "Harry Potter" you are, in fact, trained to read Stephen King.

     


    I began as a scholar of the romantic poets. In the 1950s and early 1960s, it was understood that the great English romantic poets were Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, John Keats, William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. But today they are Felicia Hemans, Charlotte Smith, Mary Tighe, Laetitia Landon, and others who just can't write. A fourth-rate playwright like Aphra Behn is being taught instead of Shakespeare in many curriculums across the country.

     

    http://archive.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2003/09/24/dumbing_down_american_readers/
    , @Anon 2
    I had a student, an English major, who couldn’t be more dismissive of Shakespeare.
    At 20 she was already an ardent feminist, and to her, I suppose, he was merely
    one more Dead White Male she was forced to study. However, she got
    around the requirement by taking her Shakespeare class as a quick Supervised
    Study course during summer. By the way, she was white.
    , @Intelligent Dasein

    The decline in overall IQ will kill Shakespeare study in the US. If everyone doesn’t appreciate Shakespeare, then Shakespeare will have to go.
     
    This is wrong and backwards (and ridiculous).

    Shakespeare was never meant to be highbrow stuff. It was originally meant to be common theater that everyone could appreciate. Whereas the academic jargon and recherche ideas of critical studies really do require an intellectual strain and are inaccessible to most.

    It is actually quite tragic (pun intended) that people like Bloom have succeeded in converting Shakespeare from a universal possession intto an academic merit badge. In doing so, they have brought about the very condition they now deplore. They just couldn't stomach the thought of the masses pawing at their precious texts with their grubby hands, so they so sharpened and harshened the experience that few would ever want to endure it. Then they turned around and complained that more people weren't learning Shakespeare.

    This is like the prima ballerina scoffing at the people for being out of shape and ungraceful, and wondering why more of them don't come to the ballet.
    , @Desiderius
    Shakespeare wrote for the pit as much as the box. If he leaves the scene for a generation or two it will be the envy of overpromoted snobs responsible not IQ levels high or low.
  4. I’m not sure about Mormon theme parks, but the rest of his predictions seem spot on.

    • Replies: @Kronos
    Close enough...

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/91koTIMuL3L.jpg
  5. Bloom was unique among a Jewish men. He didn’t target a shiksa.

    https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/a15844647/naomi-wolf-yale-harold-bloom/

    Will Yale Finally Listen to Naomi Wolf?

    Thirteen years after she claimed she had been “sexually encroached” upon by Harold Bloom, a professor at Yale, the feminist author tries again. Will #MeToo help her cause?

    by NORMAN VANAMEE
    JAN 23, 2018

    … Wolf, a Rhodes Scholar with a doctorate from Oxford, has stated that while attending Yale as an undergraduate she was sexually assaulted by Harold Bloom, the noted literary critic and Yale faculty member. Bloom, in a 2015 interview with Time magazine, and in a recent email to Town & Country, denied her claim. Wolf has also stated that since 2016 her attempts to file a formal grievance with Yale’s University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct have been thwarted…

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Wolf's account is one of the most ROFTL things I ever did read.

    She invited Prof Bloom for an evening of wine and poetry reading, her own. LOL. Her knuckleheaded self really thought he set aside his busy schedule out of a powerful urge to listen to her play with words.

    So, there they were, sitting side by side. Wolf reading her poems(LOL), and Bloom with his droopy sullen face summoning all his patience to remain still... until he finally had enough and put his hand on her thigh... whereupon she realized why he really came. He didn't come for her poetry. Her wine maybe and something else.

    And then, she went to the kitchen and...

    https://youtu.be/gCLfBlRTZe8?t=40
    , @Jack D
    Accepting her version as true, Bloom put his hand on her thigh at an alcohol fueled dinner party 38 years ago. Ho-hum. Even in the age of MeToo, she couldn't get any traction out of that "sexual assault".
    , @Dan Hayes
    Boston Sid:

    Bloom called Wolf "Dracula's Daughter" since her father was a Dracula scholar!
    , @Flip
    Show us the police report or there’s nothing to talk about.
    , @sb
    Hasn't Wolf's literary reputation recently been ,if not exactly trashed ,certainly rather diminished by her making of claims based on her ignorance of the historical record ?
    , @Prester John
    If Wolfe is a ph.d then the phrase "piled high and deep" was never more appropriate. What a whiny douche bag!!
  6. Standing on the shoulders of giants is so yesterday.

    Let’s gnaw just above the ankles.

    I’ve wondered a few times if the name of the most interesting character in Wambaugh’s “Choirboys” – Harold Bloomguard – is accidental…

    • Replies: @ThreeCranes
    LOL
  7. I didn’t agree with him all the time, by any means, but he fought the good fight.

  8. Back in the 1990’s I remember checking his list of recommended books (in The Western Canon) before choosing a book to read, because he had read everything, and I mean that almost literally. A freak of nature. I’m surprised they didn’t mention his theory of “anxiety of influence,” which is what I mainly remember him for. He also gathered good (ie not postmodernist) critical essays on a lot of major works, which id occasionally peruse. (I remember being disappointed at how poorly he regarded the works of Edgar Allan Poe.) He was Camille Paglias phd advisor as well. Amazing to learn he was still teaching. While I’m glad his obituary appears to be written endearingly and sans intolerably woke barbs and condescension, I suspect his ethnicity might’ve had something to do with that. Because he was an uncompromising advocate of what is now considered white “supremacy.”

    • Replies: @Jack D
    I think Bloom was right about Poe. Poe was pretty good for a young nation and he is the father of modern detective fiction but among the giants of the Western canon he is a little pisher. Maybe if he had lived longer he might have grown but he loved the bottle too much as those of Irish descent are often wont to do.
    , @anonymous
    wwebd said ----- Bill - Bloom was not really a freak of nature - of course he was, in a limited way, but that was not what was most interesting about him - he was one of those people who realize, before they even get to college, that their intellectual gifts are limited, and who determine that they are going to make the best of it. I think he did not actually claim to memorize the things he was claimed to memorize, he merely was saying (a) I could recite for a few hours all the lines I remember from my beloved Shakespeare (I am sure he could) and (b) there are other writers I could almost do the same for, not hour after hour of recitation, but if you told me one line of theirs I could probably guess, and would almost always be right, at the next line. Jimi Hendrix once admitted that he thought he was not all that great a musician but if he had ever heard a good lick on electric guitar, he remembered it and there were thousands of ways he could play variations on what he had memorized. Same thing, Bloom and Hendrix were basically the same guy, belated artists who were almost never original but who knew how to riff on that which was good and which was ancient, and on that which was good and not so ancient.

    Poor little Janni von Neumann had a similar skill when it came to numbers and algorithms, sure he and Harold both had no problem finding jobs in academia, but both were more or less , as you said, people whose main skill was a photographic memory. In the case of von Neumann, the sad side was that, as he approached death, he realized, with the cold shudder any of us would experience, in similar circumstances, that he was little more than a slightly less autistic Sheldon Cooper - How I wish he had been my friend, I would have explained to him that God loves us all, and none of us were ever expected to be better than we could have been ..... (and yes, here on a comments section in 2019 you read correctly that someone said he was sad that he was not able to give poor Janni von Neumann advice ...... I meant what I said).

    Bloom, in his later old man books (and I have a more photographic memory than he had, and I know what I am saying) was less critical than he had been in his middle aged books of those of us who KNOW GOD LOVES US

    you can track it if you want, the older he got the more accepting he was ---- and I have read and reviewed a few of his books, and I know what he is talking about ---- the more accepting he was of the fact that it does not matter if we are poets, it does not matter if we are eloquent ....

    and while he kept saying, again and again , the only eternity for humans is the eternity of having said lasting words of genius.... (and he knew he was not telling the truth when he said that, trust me, I know how these guys operate)


    I am fairly certain - I could be wrong, but trust me, I know what I am talking about - I am fairly certain, having read the parts of his books in which he discussed eternity, and having noticed that he grew less and less clueless over the years -----that as the years went by he left clues that he was ashamed of his youthful gnosticism, and that he wanted to know the real truth - which begins with this, God loves us all - I am fairly certain that, as the years went by, that he eventually understood that genius is nothing, poetry is nothing, literary fame is nothing ....

    but there is an eternal life waiting for anyone who seeks God and who is willing to follow His commandments. Nobody cares which of us were poets, which of us had photographic memories. Because God loves us all.

    , @Anonymous

    Back in the 1990’s I remember checking his list of recommended books (in The Western Canon) before choosing a book to read, because he had read everything,
     
    He didn't include a single book by Henry Williamson.
  9. I wonder if people confuse Harold Bloom for Alan Bloom, who famously wrote “Closing of the American Mind.” Besides having the same last name, both were friendly with the Neoconservatives and Saul Bellow. Also, they were both concerned about the rise of identity politics on college campuses.

    • Replies: @Anonymous

    Harold Bloom for Alan Bloom
     
    Allan Bloom
    , @SFG
    I confused them, I admit.

    I remember reading 'The Closing of the American Mind' when I was...13? and wanting to be a conservative intellectual and go to Thomas Aquinas or St. John's (I had been reading National Review, OK?) and study The Great Tradition.

    Of course, I came to my senses--my folks didn't have that much money. I imagine some alternate universe version of me bought a bowtie and made himself insufferable for 4 years.
    , @Reg Cæsar

    I wonder if people confuse Harold Bloom for Allan Bloom
     
    I never could keep those two straight. Their ideas dovetailed.

    Allan died in 1992, so Harold had a good 27 years to establish a separate identity.
    , @Nodwink
    Alan Bloom was fond of teenage boys, I'm not sure about Harold.
  10. Harold Bloom and Alan Bloom, two great defenders of the Western canon. The next time we get lectured about how the current crop of non -Western European immigrants is just like the Ellis Island vintage, ask them:

    * where is the basic sense among the current crop to be embarrassed by their funny sounding-names?
    * where is the decency among the current crop to be ashamed of their barbarous-sounding accents? (“”Yonda lies the castle of my foddah” and all that)
    * where is the magnificence of spirit among the current crop to embrace the best of the Western high canon more dearly than their own scripture (“Shakespeare created the human, not Y-W-H”)

    Until then, it’s all really a con, isn’t it?

  11. Don’t underestimate Lesbian Eskimo lit.

    • Replies: @Kronos
    Today class we’ll be reading author so-and-so’s book “Licking Snow.” It details sexual hunger in a natural wilderness of scarcity. Snow is white, it’s tasteless, and it’s oppresses people with bitter cold. You can’t see cold, but it oppresses people all the same.

    https://thumbs-prod.si-cdn.com/qHEnImYmjD2z06cf2Nk9bJ7NckE=/420x240/https://public-media.si-cdn.com/filer/e2/91/e2916a24-0c6d-426a-8fba-018469c02083/terror_103_am_0131_0446-rt.jpg

    , @Dissident

    Don’t underestimate Lesbian Eskimo lit.
     
    The Klondike Adventures...
  12. The dig at “Mormon theme parks,” is a rather idiosyncratic one, albeit amusing. I’m a Latter-day Saint and I’m only aware of one such park: https://www.polynesia.com/

    Maybe he had taken a Hawaiian vacation just before writing that?

    • Replies: @Dieter Kief
    Thanks for your theme park hint. Harold Bloom sure knew how to make people wonder!
    (And no, he did not make this kind of mistake. - He risked that people would think he had made one, which is something different. This rhetoric strategy reminds me of gamblers - and art and gambling have lots in common. For those who trust neither Friedrich Schiller nor Harald Bloom in these matters - there'd still be Ludwig Wittgenstein - or Bloom's thoughtful indeed pupil Camille Paglia ((TheMasks of) Sexual Personae).
    , @Thatgirl
    Bloom wrote a very interesting book called The American Religion which was his own very idiosyncratic interpretation of the American religious experience and its different manifestations. If I remember correctly, he believed that American religions - whether Jewish, Christian, etc. - all shared an essential element of gnosisticm that would make them unrecognizable to Europeans.

    I remember that he seemed to have an abiding fondness for Mormons, seeming to see them as similar to Jews in their creation of their own culture and origin story. He felt that Mormons, like Jews, would always be Mormons even if they left the faith.
    , @gregor
    Bloom seemed to have some fascination with Mormonism and viewed Joseph Smith as a “religious genius.”

    He has a book called The American Religion which I have not read but based on summaries he argues that most American religions are essentially “gnostic” and distinct from traditional European Christianity. I don’t think I buy it, but if nothing else it does seem like an original idea.
  13. @Ibound1
    The decline in overall IQ will kill Shakespeare study in the US. If everyone doesn’t appreciate Shakespeare, then Shakespeare will have to go. They will disguise this with the normal multi-culti “we need art that speaks to the student” mumbo jumbo.

    Ironically Karl Marx grew up classically educated, and reportedly as an adult he maintained enough fluency to read Aeschylus’ tragedies in the original Greek for pleasure. Not to mention that he could also recite Dante, Shakespeare and Goethe from memory. Many of the early communists similarly put the effort into cultivating their minds with Western literature, music and art. Even Che Guevara, from a later generation, grew up in an educated family with a large library in the household, and reportedly he read voraciously and kept notebooks about the ideas he found in his reading.

    By contrast, the heirs of the leftist tradition who try to engineer our culture these days just don’t come across as cultivated and thoughtful people who could discuss ideas competently. For example, Ta-Nehisi Coates, a current celebrity “intellectual,” admitted in an interview a few years ago that he had never heard of St. Augustine.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    Of course if you knock 50 points of IQ off by browning the critic population ( I would guesstimate Bloom at 150 based on his prodigious memory, Coates probably has trouble remembering his own phone # and MAYBE breaks 100 on a good day) then the quality of intellectual discourse is going to go down. Welcome to Idiocracy!
    , @Dacian Julien Soros
    At the most recent Labour conference, the party proposed a reduction in the working week to 36 hours, a maximum limit for the percentage for privately-educated high-schoolers in the annual intake of state-subsidized universities, and the unification of various local schemes into a national social care system, free at the point of care. That is Marxist left.

    American private college students, derping about LGBT sexuality and race imbalances, are not leftists by any measure.

    Were you not indoctrinated about the supposed dangers of "Marxism", you would describe the woke as "Nazis", or "antiSemites", or some other label you hardly understand, but "know" it should be bad.

    By repeating "insults" you were brainwashed with by Reaganites during kindergarten, you prove yourself as low as the woke. Namecalling should remain in the kindergartens.
    , @Anon 2
    I doubt that many American rockers still alive are as cultivated
    as Jim Morrison (of The Doors) was in the 1960s. He owned hundreds
    of paperbacks, including many classics, and he’d play a game with
    his friends in which they’d read several sentences from a random
    book, and ask him to identify it. He aced it every time. But then he
    was an admiral’s son and a man with a film degree from UCLA.
    , @sb
    Once upon a time people of a leftist inclination viewed socialism as a continuation of the Western Civilisation tradition ,certainly an extension of the Enlightenment .

    That now seems quite a different country
    , @Duke84
    Coates failed both American and English Lit at Howard University and failed to graduate but the MacArthur Foundation gave him one of their genius awards just for being black.
  14. Anonymous[254] • Disclaimer says:

    That was then.

    “Hey hey ho ho, Western Civ has to go.”

    This is now.

    “Hey hey ho ho, Western Civ is Afro.”

    So, if we imagine Shakespeare and Beethoven were really black, it’s all okay now.

    Look how turning Hamilton, the arch-elitist quasi-aristocrat, into a Negro in a rap musical made him fashionable.

  15. @JohnnyD
    I wonder if people confuse Harold Bloom for Alan Bloom, who famously wrote "Closing of the American Mind." Besides having the same last name, both were friendly with the Neoconservatives and Saul Bellow. Also, they were both concerned about the rise of identity politics on college campuses.

    Harold Bloom for Alan Bloom

    Allan Bloom

  16. @syonredux

    Armed with a photographic memory, Professor Bloom could recite acres of poetry by heart — by his account, the whole of Shakespeare, Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” all of William Blake, the Hebraic Bible and Edmund Spenser’s monumental “The Fairie Queen.” …
     
    I can believe memorizing Shakespeare's literary corpus, Paradise Lost, and The Hebrew Bible. But all of William Blake and The Faerie Queene ? I think that Bloom was gilding the lily, as it were.

    Still, that being said, I've always appreciated Bloom for his defense of aesthetic values. And I fondly recall poring through his introductions in the Chelsea House collections (compilations of critical essays on canonical authors, works, and, in a distinctly Bloomian touch, literary characters) back in my High School days.

    Ave atque vale, Professor Bloom. You will be missed.

    Still, that being said, I’ve always appreciated Bloom for his defense of aesthetic values….
    Ave atque vale, Professor Bloom. You will be missed.

    Agree, and join in your salutation Ave atque vale which Bloom richly deserves.

  17. Anonymous[254] • Disclaimer says:
    @Boston Sid
    Bloom was unique among a Jewish men. He didn’t target a shiksa.

    https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/a15844647/naomi-wolf-yale-harold-bloom/

    Will Yale Finally Listen to Naomi Wolf?

    Thirteen years after she claimed she had been "sexually encroached" upon by Harold Bloom, a professor at Yale, the feminist author tries again. Will #MeToo help her cause?

    by NORMAN VANAMEE
    JAN 23, 2018

    ... Wolf, a Rhodes Scholar with a doctorate from Oxford, has stated that while attending Yale as an undergraduate she was sexually assaulted by Harold Bloom, the noted literary critic and Yale faculty member. Bloom, in a 2015 interview with Time magazine, and in a recent email to Town & Country, denied her claim. Wolf has also stated that since 2016 her attempts to file a formal grievance with Yale’s University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct have been thwarted...

     

    Wolf’s account is one of the most ROFTL things I ever did read.

    She invited Prof Bloom for an evening of wine and poetry reading, her own. LOL. Her knuckleheaded self really thought he set aside his busy schedule out of a powerful urge to listen to her play with words.

    So, there they were, sitting side by side. Wolf reading her poems(LOL), and Bloom with his droopy sullen face summoning all his patience to remain still… until he finally had enough and put his hand on her thigh… whereupon she realized why he really came. He didn’t come for her poetry. Her wine maybe and something else.

    And then, she went to the kitchen and…

    • LOL: YetAnotherAnon
    • Replies: @YetAnotherAnon
    Young Naomi was very fetching - I can see why the good professor was tempted. If her poetry's like the rest of her writing his punishment came before his commission of the offence - in fact it may have been a desperate attempt to stop her reading but without insulting her poetry.
  18. @MC
    The dig at "Mormon theme parks," is a rather idiosyncratic one, albeit amusing. I'm a Latter-day Saint and I'm only aware of one such park: https://www.polynesia.com/

    Maybe he had taken a Hawaiian vacation just before writing that?

    Thanks for your theme park hint. Harold Bloom sure knew how to make people wonder!
    (And no, he did not make this kind of mistake. – He risked that people would think he had made one, which is something different. This rhetoric strategy reminds me of gamblers – and art and gambling have lots in common. For those who trust neither Friedrich Schiller nor Harald Bloom in these matters – there’d still be Ludwig Wittgenstein – or Bloom’s thoughtful indeed pupil Camille Paglia ((TheMasks of) Sexual Personae).

    • Agree: byrresheim
  19. Heard of “damning with faint praise”?

    Bloom, a subversive with an original mind if there ever was one, cleverly damned with over-the-top-exaggerated praise.

    It was a case of bardolatry gone stark raving mad.

    Shakespeare invented humanity?!?!

    Laughably wild claims like this get in the way of our ability to appreciate the real Shakespeare – a solid poet and a high quality entertainer; not a God.

    Bizarrely, Bloom interprets every single piece of literature ever written as a clever attack on Puritanism – including the New Testament, Milton, and presumably also Calvin’s Institutes.

    Bizarre, but not inexplicable. Kevin MacDonald could surely venture a hypothesis on Bloom’s motivations for subverting the traditional religion of the host people.

    • Replies: @gregor
    Eh, this Bloom guy sounds okay in my book. I can’t object to his defense of classic literature or his assaults on left wing literary criticism. We can only hope for more “subversives” in this mold. It’s true that if it weren’t for his coethnics there would be little need for such a defense of dead white males and he is at best canceling out a minuscule portion of the damage caused by other Jewish academics, but I’m not going to hold that against him personally. At the same time, I can’t give him too much credit for calling out that stuff that’s so transparently stupid. And I find it galling that only Jews seem to be permitted to act in this sort of role, at least in elite venues. Could a goy write like Bloom without being drummed out of academia for white supremacy? Do any of them dare try? (Similarly for some reason Pinker seems to be the only elite professor who can flirt with biological realism.)

    One thing I would be interested to know is if there is any subtle (or not so subtle) Jewish boosterism in Bloom’s work. Shakespeare, Chaucer, and ... Kafka? Likewise, in one of syon’s quotes here the thread Bloom praises Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, and Arthur Miller. Odd that he picks only Jews for his examples of good modern writers in that sentence.

  20. @Boston Sid
    Bloom was unique among a Jewish men. He didn’t target a shiksa.

    https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/a15844647/naomi-wolf-yale-harold-bloom/

    Will Yale Finally Listen to Naomi Wolf?

    Thirteen years after she claimed she had been "sexually encroached" upon by Harold Bloom, a professor at Yale, the feminist author tries again. Will #MeToo help her cause?

    by NORMAN VANAMEE
    JAN 23, 2018

    ... Wolf, a Rhodes Scholar with a doctorate from Oxford, has stated that while attending Yale as an undergraduate she was sexually assaulted by Harold Bloom, the noted literary critic and Yale faculty member. Bloom, in a 2015 interview with Time magazine, and in a recent email to Town & Country, denied her claim. Wolf has also stated that since 2016 her attempts to file a formal grievance with Yale’s University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct have been thwarted...

     

    Accepting her version as true, Bloom put his hand on her thigh at an alcohol fueled dinner party 38 years ago. Ho-hum. Even in the age of MeToo, she couldn’t get any traction out of that “sexual assault”.

    • Replies: @Kronos
    When someone who gave you a blowjob 30 years ago comes forward and calls it sexual harassment...

    https://stayhipp.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Theresa-May.jpg
  21. Shakespeare, Chaucer, Milton, Austen, Dickens, Hawthorne–they should be studied not because they are ‘relevant’, but because they are the founding fathers of English literature and influenced all the writers who followed them and the way a whole civilization came to think about certain things.

    • Replies: @JohnnyD
    That's exactly why the academic left hates those writers.
  22. You left out the groping of Naomi Wolf!

    http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/features/n_9932/

    (this was before she was seeing chemtrails and shit. Maybe it’s Bloom’s fault that she started seeing chemtrails and shit!)

  23. @Ibound1
    The decline in overall IQ will kill Shakespeare study in the US. If everyone doesn’t appreciate Shakespeare, then Shakespeare will have to go. They will disguise this with the normal multi-culti “we need art that speaks to the student” mumbo jumbo.

    Here’s a nice piece by Bloom on the erosion of critical standards:

    Dumbing down American readers
    By Harold Bloom, 9/24/2003

    THE DECISION to give the National Book Foundation’s annual award for “distinguished contribution” to Stephen King is extraordinary, another low in the shocking process of dumbing down our cultural life. I’ve described King in the past as a writer of penny dreadfuls, but perhaps even that is too kind. He shares nothing with Edgar Allan Poe. What he is is an immensely inadequate writer on a sentence-by-sentence, paragraph-by-paragraph, book-by-book basis. The publishing industry has stooped terribly low to bestow on King a lifetime award that has previously gone to the novelists Saul Bellow and Philip Roth and to playwright Arthur Miller. By awarding it to King they recognize nothing but the commercial value of his books, which sell in the millions but do little more for humanity than keep the publishing world afloat. If this is going to be the criterion in the future, then perhaps next year the committee should give its award for distinguished contribution to Danielle Steel, and surely the Nobel Prize for literature should go to J.K. Rowling.

    What’s happening is part of a phenomenon I wrote about a couple of years ago when I was asked to comment on Rowling. I went to the Yale University bookstore and bought and read a copy of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” I suffered a great deal in the process. The writing was dreadful; the book was terrible. As I read, I noticed that every time a character went for a walk, the author wrote instead that the character “stretched his legs.” I began marking on the back of an envelope every time that phrase was repeated. I stopped only after I had marked the envelope several dozen times. I was incredulous. Rowling’s mind is so governed by cliches and dead metaphors that she has no other style of writing.

    But when I wrote that in a newspaper, I was denounced. I was told that children would now read only J.K. Rowling, and I was asked whether that wasn’t, after all, better than reading nothing at all? If Rowling was what it took to make them pick up a book, wasn’t that a good thing?

    It is not. “Harry Potter” will not lead our children on to Kipling’s “Just So Stories” or his “Jungle Book.” It will not lead them to Thurber’s “Thirteen Clocks” or Kenneth Grahame’s “Wind in the Willows” or Lewis Carroll’s “Alice.”

    Later I read a lavish, loving review of Harry Potter by the same Stephen King. He wrote something to the effect of, “If these kids are reading Harry Potter at 11 or 12, then when they get older they will go on to read Stephen King.” And he was quite right. He was not being ironic. When you read “Harry Potter” you are, in fact, trained to read Stephen King.

    I began as a scholar of the romantic poets. In the 1950s and early 1960s, it was understood that the great English romantic poets were Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, John Keats, William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. But today they are Felicia Hemans, Charlotte Smith, Mary Tighe, Laetitia Landon, and others who just can’t write. A fourth-rate playwright like Aphra Behn is being taught instead of Shakespeare in many curriculums across the country.

    http://archive.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2003/09/24/dumbing_down_american_readers/

    • Replies: @JohnnyD
    He was prophetic about Harry Potter. The kids who grew up reading Harry Potter are now annoying SJWs who are always using Harry Potter metaphors.
    , @Thatgirl
    Bloom was right, of course, about the abysmal writing in Harry Potter. Bloom probably didn’t point out one more of the many failings of that series which is the fictional sport of “quidditch,” a game invented by someone who has clearly never played, or even watched, any sports in her life.

    In quidditch, each “goal” scores one point, but if one team captures the other team’s magic ball, it is worth something like 100 points, essentially making all the other goals worthless.

    As one who has suffered through watching every movie in the series with my kid, and tried to read the books, this game drives me batty, especially since the fans of the series seem to think Rowling’s creation of this game is such a stroke of brilliance.

  24. @Bill
    Back in the 1990’s I remember checking his list of recommended books (in The Western Canon) before choosing a book to read, because he had read everything, and I mean that almost literally. A freak of nature. I’m surprised they didn’t mention his theory of “anxiety of influence,” which is what I mainly remember him for. He also gathered good (ie not postmodernist) critical essays on a lot of major works, which id occasionally peruse. (I remember being disappointed at how poorly he regarded the works of Edgar Allan Poe.) He was Camille Paglias phd advisor as well. Amazing to learn he was still teaching. While I’m glad his obituary appears to be written endearingly and sans intolerably woke barbs and condescension, I suspect his ethnicity might’ve had something to do with that. Because he was an uncompromising advocate of what is now considered white “supremacy.”

    I think Bloom was right about Poe. Poe was pretty good for a young nation and he is the father of modern detective fiction but among the giants of the Western canon he is a little pisher. Maybe if he had lived longer he might have grown but he loved the bottle too much as those of Irish descent are often wont to do.

    • Replies: @Bill
    Yeah good point, Bloom was probably right about Poe’s literary merit (and now that I think about it, also about dismissing Thus Spoke Zarathustra as “bathos,” which had offended my sensibilities at the time. He did coin “school of resentment” based on nietzsches idea of ressentiment). But to his credit, the man was modest enough to include writers in his canon based on other scholars’ high estimation of them.
    , @syonredux

    I think Bloom was right about Poe. Poe was pretty good for a young nation and he is the father of modern detective fiction but among the giants of the Western canon he is a little pisher.
     
    More than just detective fiction. He was the great theoretician of the short story as an art form.And he had a considerable role in shaping the nascent genre that we now call science fiction ( Poe's influence on Jules Verne, for example, was immense). And that's leaving to one side his influence on French poets like Baudelaire (who translated Poe's works into French) Mallarmé.
    , @The Germ Theory of Disease
    Well, who'd-a thunk it, but the Littlest Expert has a big-boy opinion about the author of "The Bells."

    It's too bad Steve doesn't have a funnies page, but at least he's got Jack D.
    , @Clifford Brown
    Bloom was dismissive of Poe and King, so I had to wonder what his position was on my favorite American horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft. Bloom seems to at least respect Lovecraft. I like to think Bloom appreciated Lovecraft's sense of humor which is lacking in Poe and King.
    , @Ministry of Tongues

    he loved the bottle too much as those of Irish descent are often wont to do
     
    Since you mention Hart Crane...

    Bloom loved Crane's poetry since boyhood and kept returning to him. I could never find anything in Crane, who seems like an Eliot wannabe out of his depth. But I'm not Bloom, so...
  25. anonymous[546] • Disclaimer says:
    @Bill
    Back in the 1990’s I remember checking his list of recommended books (in The Western Canon) before choosing a book to read, because he had read everything, and I mean that almost literally. A freak of nature. I’m surprised they didn’t mention his theory of “anxiety of influence,” which is what I mainly remember him for. He also gathered good (ie not postmodernist) critical essays on a lot of major works, which id occasionally peruse. (I remember being disappointed at how poorly he regarded the works of Edgar Allan Poe.) He was Camille Paglias phd advisor as well. Amazing to learn he was still teaching. While I’m glad his obituary appears to be written endearingly and sans intolerably woke barbs and condescension, I suspect his ethnicity might’ve had something to do with that. Because he was an uncompromising advocate of what is now considered white “supremacy.”

    wwebd said —– Bill – Bloom was not really a freak of nature – of course he was, in a limited way, but that was not what was most interesting about him – he was one of those people who realize, before they even get to college, that their intellectual gifts are limited, and who determine that they are going to make the best of it. I think he did not actually claim to memorize the things he was claimed to memorize, he merely was saying (a) I could recite for a few hours all the lines I remember from my beloved Shakespeare (I am sure he could) and (b) there are other writers I could almost do the same for, not hour after hour of recitation, but if you told me one line of theirs I could probably guess, and would almost always be right, at the next line. Jimi Hendrix once admitted that he thought he was not all that great a musician but if he had ever heard a good lick on electric guitar, he remembered it and there were thousands of ways he could play variations on what he had memorized. Same thing, Bloom and Hendrix were basically the same guy, belated artists who were almost never original but who knew how to riff on that which was good and which was ancient, and on that which was good and not so ancient.

    Poor little Janni von Neumann had a similar skill when it came to numbers and algorithms, sure he and Harold both had no problem finding jobs in academia, but both were more or less , as you said, people whose main skill was a photographic memory. In the case of von Neumann, the sad side was that, as he approached death, he realized, with the cold shudder any of us would experience, in similar circumstances, that he was little more than a slightly less autistic Sheldon Cooper – How I wish he had been my friend, I would have explained to him that God loves us all, and none of us were ever expected to be better than we could have been ….. (and yes, here on a comments section in 2019 you read correctly that someone said he was sad that he was not able to give poor Janni von Neumann advice …… I meant what I said).

    Bloom, in his later old man books (and I have a more photographic memory than he had, and I know what I am saying) was less critical than he had been in his middle aged books of those of us who KNOW GOD LOVES US

    you can track it if you want, the older he got the more accepting he was —- and I have read and reviewed a few of his books, and I know what he is talking about —- the more accepting he was of the fact that it does not matter if we are poets, it does not matter if we are eloquent ….

    and while he kept saying, again and again , the only eternity for humans is the eternity of having said lasting words of genius…. (and he knew he was not telling the truth when he said that, trust me, I know how these guys operate)

    I am fairly certain – I could be wrong, but trust me, I know what I am talking about – I am fairly certain, having read the parts of his books in which he discussed eternity, and having noticed that he grew less and less clueless over the years —–that as the years went by he left clues that he was ashamed of his youthful gnosticism, and that he wanted to know the real truth – which begins with this, God loves us all – I am fairly certain that, as the years went by, that he eventually understood that genius is nothing, poetry is nothing, literary fame is nothing ….

    but there is an eternal life waiting for anyone who seeks God and who is willing to follow His commandments. Nobody cares which of us were poets, which of us had photographic memories. Because God loves us all.

    • Disagree: MEH 0910
    • Replies: @anonymous
    MEH wake up ! The world is real.
    , @Mr McKenna

    I am fairly certain – I could be wrong, but trust me, I know what I am talking about – I am fairly certain
     
    I truly enjoy these disjointed pseudo-philosophical emanations we regularly get here from 'anonymous' contributors. They're almost always self-absorbed, insistently demanding of respect, and rife with self-contradiction. Truly a pleasure, if you're perverse about these things, as I am.
    , @Mitchell Porter
    Your comment reminds me that Harold Bloom was an admirer of David Lindsay's "A Voyage to Arcturus", a gnostic allegory with traces of Schopenhauer and many other thinkers. Bloom even wrote a sequel or homage to "Arcturus", called "The Flight to Lucifer", which adhered much more closely to gnostic mythology (Lindsay invented his own mythology), but which didn't have the allegorical clarity of Lindsay.
  26. @Boston Sid
    Bloom was unique among a Jewish men. He didn’t target a shiksa.

    https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/a15844647/naomi-wolf-yale-harold-bloom/

    Will Yale Finally Listen to Naomi Wolf?

    Thirteen years after she claimed she had been "sexually encroached" upon by Harold Bloom, a professor at Yale, the feminist author tries again. Will #MeToo help her cause?

    by NORMAN VANAMEE
    JAN 23, 2018

    ... Wolf, a Rhodes Scholar with a doctorate from Oxford, has stated that while attending Yale as an undergraduate she was sexually assaulted by Harold Bloom, the noted literary critic and Yale faculty member. Bloom, in a 2015 interview with Time magazine, and in a recent email to Town & Country, denied her claim. Wolf has also stated that since 2016 her attempts to file a formal grievance with Yale’s University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct have been thwarted...

     

    Boston Sid:

    Bloom called Wolf “Dracula’s Daughter” since her father was a Dracula scholar!

  27. Chiefly he argued for the literary superiority of the Western giants like Shakespeare, Chaucer and Kafka — all of them white and male, his own critics pointed out — over writers favored by what he called “the School of Resentment,” by which he meant multiculturalists, feminists, Marxists, neoconservatives and others whom he saw as betraying literature’s essential purpose.

    “the School of Resentment,”

    Was ever a nail so solidly hit on the head?

  28. More Bloom:

    They Have the Numbers; We, The Heights

    My title is from Thucydides and is spoken by the Spartan commander at Thermopylae. Culturally, we are at Thermopylae: the multiculturalists, the hordes of camp- followers afflicted by the French diseases, the mock-feminists, the commissars, the gender-and-power freaks, the hosts of new historicists and old materialists—all stand below us. They will surge up and we may be overcome; our universities are already travesties, and our journalists parody our professors of “cultural studies.”

    That 1996 anthology is one of the provocations for this essay, since it seems to me a monumental representation of the enemies of the aesthetic who are in the act of overwhelming us. It is of a badness not to be believed, because it follows the criteria now operative: what matters most are the race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, and political purpose of the would-be poet. I ardently wish I were being hyperbolical, but in fact I am exercising restraint, very difficult for a lifelong aesthete at the age of sixty-seven. One cannot expect every attempt at poetry to rival Chaucer and Shakespeare, Milton and Wordsworth, Whitman and Dickinson, Wallace Stevens and Hart Crane. But those poets, and their peers, set the measure: any who aspire to poetry must keep such exemplars always in mind. Sincerity, as the divine Oscar Wilde assured us, is not nearly enough to generate a poem. Bursting with sincerity, the 1996 volume is a Stuffed Owl of bad verse, and of much badness that is neither verse nor prose.

    Scolding the universities, or the media, is useless: enormous social pressures—that do not affect the people in general, or the Republican Congress and not very Democratic president the people elected—have been loosed upon institutions hopelessly vulnerable to cultural guilt. Every variety of “studies” at last will be housed: if sexual orientation is to be placed with race, ethnic group, and gender as sources of aesthetic and cognitive values, then why should we not have “Sado-Masochistic Studies,” in particular honor of the god of resentment, the late Michel Foucault? If there is a Homosexual Poetic, then why not a Poetics of Pain? If representation-by-category is to be the law of the universities, and of all those they influence, what “minority” is to be excluded? Shakespeare and Dante were European males; is that worth remarking?

    Yet nearly all current published criticism of Wordsworth and almost any class taught on him at our universities and colleges now actively condemn this greatest of all modern poets on political grounds, because he “betrayed” his early allegiance to the French Revolution! By our means test, Wordsworth cannot pass. So absurd have the professors become that I can see no way to salvage literary study except to abolish tenure. Tenure is an archaic survival anyway, but it becomes pernicious when faculties are crowded by thousands of ideologues, who resent Wordsworth even as they resent Shakespeare. When I was a young teacher of poetry at Yale, the English Romantic poets were Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, and Keats, as well as Blake and Shelley, whose place in the canon I helped restore. On hundreds of campuses now, these poets have to share attention with the “women Romantic poets”: Felicia Hemans, Laetitia Landon, Charlotte Smith, and Mary Tighe, among some others. These were, to understate, justly neglected verse writers, though superior to many in The Best American Poetry 1996. Anthologies of seventeenth-century English literature now give us, side by side with Donne, Ben Johnson, and Milton, a group including the Duchess of Newcastle, Lady Mary Chudleigh, Anne Killigrew, and the venerated Aphra Behn. I have seen my profession dying for over a quarter century now, and in another decade it may be dead. If its function is to appreciate and teach Laetitia Landon and Lady Mary Chudleigh, then the demise cannot come too soon.

    One asks again: How could this have happened, and not just in the universities but in the publishing world and in the media? The New York Times essentially is now a countercultural newspaper. When Maya Angelou read a poem for Clinton’s first inauguration, the Times printed the text, a monument of sincerity, and in an editorial praised this effusion for its “Whitmanian amplitudes.” Recently, one of the Times rock critics proclaimed our contemporary Mozart to be the glyph formerly known as Prince. Literary satire is impossible when the Times exceeds Nathaniel West and Terry Southern in outrageousness. If all aesthetic and cognitive standards are abandoned by professors and journalists alike, then the tradition of American poetry can survive only by a profound inward turning.

    It was inevitable that the School of Resentment would do its destructive damage to the reading, staging, and interpretation of Shakespeare, whose eminence is the ultimate demonstration of the autonomy of the aesthetic. Cultural poeticians, ostensible feminists, sub-Marxists, and assorted would-be Parisians have given us French Shakespeare, who never wrote a line but instead sat in a tavern while all the “social energies” of early modern Europe pulsated into his quill and created Hamlet, Falstaff, Iago, and Cleopatra, with little aid from that mere funnel, the Man from Stratford. It has not been explained (at least to me) just why the social energies favored Shakespeare over Thomas Middleton or John Marston or George Chapman or whoever, but this remarkable notion totally dominates today’s academic study of Shakespeare. First, Paris told us that language did the thinking and writing for us, but then Foucault emerged, and Shakespeare went from being language’s serf to society’s minion. No longer can we speak of the best writer–Auden’s Top Bard–and if Shakespeare recedes, why call a volume The Best American Poetry? Certainly the 1996 volume should have been retitled The Most Socially Energetic American Poetry, and if I were not Bloom Brontosaurus, an amiable dinosaur, we could have called this book The Most Socially Energetic of the Socially Energetic. The madness that contaminates our once high culture cannot be cured unless and until we surrender our more than Kafkan sense that social guilt is not to be doubted. No thing can be more malignant than a disease of the spirit that sincerely regards itself as virtue.

    Each time I make the mistake of glancing at the Yale Weekly Bulletin, I shudder to see that the dean of Yale College has appointed yet another subdean to minister to the supposed cultural interests of another identity club: ethnic, racial, linguistic, with gender and erotic subsets. Shakespeare, performed and read in every country (with the sporadic exception of France, most xenophobic of cultures), is judged by audiences of every race and language to have put them upon the stage. Shakespeare’s power has nothing to do with Eurocentrism, maleness, Christianity, or Elizabethan-Jacobean social energies. No one else so combined cognitive strength, originality, dramatic guile, and linguistic florabundance as virtually to reinvent the human, and Shakespeare is therefore the best battlefield upon which to fight the rabblement of Resenters.

    http://bostonreview.net/forum/harold-bloom-they-have-numbers-we-heights

    • Replies: @Mr McKenna
    Great stuff. Thanks.
    , @Dieter Kief
    Harald Bloom,spot on:

    One asks again: How could this have happened, and not just in the universities but in the publishing world and in the media? The New York Times essentially is now a countercultural newspaper.
     
    America, the great freedom stable (Heinrich Heine) - somehow makes or lets such things happen. - All is possible. Yep. But not everything possible is good, isn't it? - In a way, Bloom sided here with - - - Trump. But unfortunately, he did not "make it explicit", to quote Robert Brandom.
  29. @Jack D
    I think Bloom was right about Poe. Poe was pretty good for a young nation and he is the father of modern detective fiction but among the giants of the Western canon he is a little pisher. Maybe if he had lived longer he might have grown but he loved the bottle too much as those of Irish descent are often wont to do.

    Yeah good point, Bloom was probably right about Poe’s literary merit (and now that I think about it, also about dismissing Thus Spoke Zarathustra as “bathos,” which had offended my sensibilities at the time. He did coin “school of resentment” based on nietzsches idea of ressentiment). But to his credit, the man was modest enough to include writers in his canon based on other scholars’ high estimation of them.

  30. @Jack D
    I think Bloom was right about Poe. Poe was pretty good for a young nation and he is the father of modern detective fiction but among the giants of the Western canon he is a little pisher. Maybe if he had lived longer he might have grown but he loved the bottle too much as those of Irish descent are often wont to do.

    I think Bloom was right about Poe. Poe was pretty good for a young nation and he is the father of modern detective fiction but among the giants of the Western canon he is a little pisher.

    More than just detective fiction. He was the great theoretician of the short story as an art form.And he had a considerable role in shaping the nascent genre that we now call science fiction ( Poe’s influence on Jules Verne, for example, was immense). And that’s leaving to one side his influence on French poets like Baudelaire (who translated Poe’s works into French) Mallarmé.

    • Replies: @Bill

    He was the great theoretician of the short story as an art form
     
    Re: Poe as theoretician of the form, do you mean by example, or as a writer of literary criticism? I wasn’t aware of that. And that’s right, now I recall Bloom included Poe among the greats mainly based on his influence on the French symbolists, who apparently idolized him.
    , @Jack D
    Yes but detective fiction, science fiction and the short story are all considered more in the realm of commercial fiction than great literature where the novel is king. Poe was the first man in America to (try to) make a living just from writing and he didn't succeed very well because the market wasn't quite mature enough. Born too soon.
  31. @Joe H
    I’m not sure about Mormon theme parks, but the rest of his predictions seem spot on.

    Close enough…

  32. Armed with a photographic memory, Professor Bloom could recite acres of poetry by heart — by his account, the whole of Shakespeare, Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” all of William Blake, the Hebraic Bible and Edmund Spenser’s monumental “The Fairie Queen.”

    My cousin’s college English professor once said, “Never trust anyone who claims to have read the entirely of The Faerie Queene– he’s either lying, or he’s actually insane“. I took this as a challenge, finished the whole thing in under 40 days whilst working full-time, and wound up absolutely adoring it (far too much even to be annoyed by Spenser’s not-entirely-unjustified animus toward bog-trotting Paddy Papists like me and mine). I have had grave doubts about my mental health ever since.

    • Replies: @Prester John
    There's a soft-cover copy of FQ in (of all places) the laundry room of our building. I'm going to guess that it's about four inches thick. I vote "insane."
    , @kaganovitch
    I have had grave doubts about my mental health ever since.

    Perhaps grave doubts about your cousin's English professor are more in place?
  33. @syonredux
    Here's a nice piece by Bloom on the erosion of critical standards:

    Dumbing down American readers
    By Harold Bloom, 9/24/2003

    THE DECISION to give the National Book Foundation's annual award for "distinguished contribution" to Stephen King is extraordinary, another low in the shocking process of dumbing down our cultural life. I've described King in the past as a writer of penny dreadfuls, but perhaps even that is too kind. He shares nothing with Edgar Allan Poe. What he is is an immensely inadequate writer on a sentence-by-sentence, paragraph-by-paragraph, book-by-book basis. The publishing industry has stooped terribly low to bestow on King a lifetime award that has previously gone to the novelists Saul Bellow and Philip Roth and to playwright Arthur Miller. By awarding it to King they recognize nothing but the commercial value of his books, which sell in the millions but do little more for humanity than keep the publishing world afloat. If this is going to be the criterion in the future, then perhaps next year the committee should give its award for distinguished contribution to Danielle Steel, and surely the Nobel Prize for literature should go to J.K. Rowling.
     

    What's happening is part of a phenomenon I wrote about a couple of years ago when I was asked to comment on Rowling. I went to the Yale University bookstore and bought and read a copy of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." I suffered a great deal in the process. The writing was dreadful; the book was terrible. As I read, I noticed that every time a character went for a walk, the author wrote instead that the character "stretched his legs." I began marking on the back of an envelope every time that phrase was repeated. I stopped only after I had marked the envelope several dozen times. I was incredulous. Rowling's mind is so governed by cliches and dead metaphors that she has no other style of writing.
     

    But when I wrote that in a newspaper, I was denounced. I was told that children would now read only J.K. Rowling, and I was asked whether that wasn't, after all, better than reading nothing at all? If Rowling was what it took to make them pick up a book, wasn't that a good thing?
     

    It is not. "Harry Potter" will not lead our children on to Kipling's "Just So Stories" or his "Jungle Book." It will not lead them to Thurber's "Thirteen Clocks" or Kenneth Grahame's "Wind in the Willows" or Lewis Carroll's "Alice."
     

    Later I read a lavish, loving review of Harry Potter by the same Stephen King. He wrote something to the effect of, "If these kids are reading Harry Potter at 11 or 12, then when they get older they will go on to read Stephen King." And he was quite right. He was not being ironic. When you read "Harry Potter" you are, in fact, trained to read Stephen King.

     


    I began as a scholar of the romantic poets. In the 1950s and early 1960s, it was understood that the great English romantic poets were Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, John Keats, William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. But today they are Felicia Hemans, Charlotte Smith, Mary Tighe, Laetitia Landon, and others who just can't write. A fourth-rate playwright like Aphra Behn is being taught instead of Shakespeare in many curriculums across the country.

     

    http://archive.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2003/09/24/dumbing_down_american_readers/

    He was prophetic about Harry Potter. The kids who grew up reading Harry Potter are now annoying SJWs who are always using Harry Potter metaphors.

    • Replies: @Kaplan Turqweather
    Except, of course, "The Half Blood Prince".
  34. @Jonathan Mason
    Shakespeare, Chaucer, Milton, Austen, Dickens, Hawthorne--they should be studied not because they are 'relevant', but because they are the founding fathers of English literature and influenced all the writers who followed them and the way a whole civilization came to think about certain things.

    That’s exactly why the academic left hates those writers.

  35. @Jack D
    Accepting her version as true, Bloom put his hand on her thigh at an alcohol fueled dinner party 38 years ago. Ho-hum. Even in the age of MeToo, she couldn't get any traction out of that "sexual assault".

    When someone who gave you a blowjob 30 years ago comes forward and calls it sexual harassment…

  36. @Boston Sid
    Bloom was unique among a Jewish men. He didn’t target a shiksa.

    https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/a15844647/naomi-wolf-yale-harold-bloom/

    Will Yale Finally Listen to Naomi Wolf?

    Thirteen years after she claimed she had been "sexually encroached" upon by Harold Bloom, a professor at Yale, the feminist author tries again. Will #MeToo help her cause?

    by NORMAN VANAMEE
    JAN 23, 2018

    ... Wolf, a Rhodes Scholar with a doctorate from Oxford, has stated that while attending Yale as an undergraduate she was sexually assaulted by Harold Bloom, the noted literary critic and Yale faculty member. Bloom, in a 2015 interview with Time magazine, and in a recent email to Town & Country, denied her claim. Wolf has also stated that since 2016 her attempts to file a formal grievance with Yale’s University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct have been thwarted...

     

    Show us the police report or there’s nothing to talk about.

    • Replies: @Alden
    Good for you!! Touching thigh, buttocks and women's breasts is sexual assault and battery.

    Police would take such a report. Hopefully they wouldn’t laugh in her face while scribbling it down. Anyone can report anything to the police. Doesn’t mean it’s the truth.

  37. Wow. This guy was like the Jewish Revilo Oliver. Although neither would probably have liked to hear that;-)

    • Replies: @Pheasant
    Could Bloom read Sanskrit? Did he retranslate original Greek texts regularly?
  38. @syonredux

    I think Bloom was right about Poe. Poe was pretty good for a young nation and he is the father of modern detective fiction but among the giants of the Western canon he is a little pisher.
     
    More than just detective fiction. He was the great theoretician of the short story as an art form.And he had a considerable role in shaping the nascent genre that we now call science fiction ( Poe's influence on Jules Verne, for example, was immense). And that's leaving to one side his influence on French poets like Baudelaire (who translated Poe's works into French) Mallarmé.

    He was the great theoretician of the short story as an art form

    Re: Poe as theoretician of the form, do you mean by example, or as a writer of literary criticism? I wasn’t aware of that. And that’s right, now I recall Bloom included Poe among the greats mainly based on his influence on the French symbolists, who apparently idolized him.

    • Replies: @syonredux

    He was the great theoretician of the short story as an art form

    Re: Poe as theoretician of the form, do you mean by example, or as a writer of literary criticism?
     
    Both. His short stories were important models for later writers (Kipling, Bierce, etc), and Poe's essay "The Philosophy of Composition" provided an explicit theoretical framework for understanding the genre.
  39. Harold Bloom claimed that he heard Foucault say “I’m going to take down as many people as I can with me,” upon learning of his AIDS diagnosis.

  40. @syonredux

    I think Bloom was right about Poe. Poe was pretty good for a young nation and he is the father of modern detective fiction but among the giants of the Western canon he is a little pisher.
     
    More than just detective fiction. He was the great theoretician of the short story as an art form.And he had a considerable role in shaping the nascent genre that we now call science fiction ( Poe's influence on Jules Verne, for example, was immense). And that's leaving to one side his influence on French poets like Baudelaire (who translated Poe's works into French) Mallarmé.

    Yes but detective fiction, science fiction and the short story are all considered more in the realm of commercial fiction than great literature where the novel is king. Poe was the first man in America to (try to) make a living just from writing and he didn’t succeed very well because the market wasn’t quite mature enough. Born too soon.

    • Replies: @syonredux

    Yes but detective fiction, science fiction and the short story are all considered more in the realm of commercial fiction than great literature where the novel is king.
     
    King? Dunno. I'm not sure that I would rank the novel over plays and poetry. After all, how many novelists are the equal of Shakespeare and Dante?

    As for the short story, I think that you're underrating the form. A lot of impressive short fiction has been written over the last 150+ years: "Up in Michigan," "Wakefield," "Babylon Revisited," "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge," "The Dead,""The Man Who Would Be King," "Bartleby,"Viy,""The Open Boat," etc

    Poe was the first man in America to (try to) make a living just from writing and he didn’t succeed very well because the market wasn’t quite mature enough. Born too soon.
     
    Poe's lack of success had more to do with his personal demons. Hawthorne, for example, was Poe's elder by five years, yet he persevered and produced his greatest work in the '40s and '50s, The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables, and The Blithedale Romance
    .
  41. @syonredux

    Armed with a photographic memory, Professor Bloom could recite acres of poetry by heart — by his account, the whole of Shakespeare, Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” all of William Blake, the Hebraic Bible and Edmund Spenser’s monumental “The Fairie Queen.” …
     
    I can believe memorizing Shakespeare's literary corpus, Paradise Lost, and The Hebrew Bible. But all of William Blake and The Faerie Queene ? I think that Bloom was gilding the lily, as it were.

    Still, that being said, I've always appreciated Bloom for his defense of aesthetic values. And I fondly recall poring through his introductions in the Chelsea House collections (compilations of critical essays on canonical authors, works, and, in a distinctly Bloomian touch, literary characters) back in my High School days.

    Ave atque vale, Professor Bloom. You will be missed.

    Memorized Shakespeare for extra credit back in high school. Can still recite Hamlet’s soliloquy from memory. Beautiful stuff.

    I can see someone who really liked literature memorizing huge chunks of it. Heck, that’s what poets used to do before writing. You really do get to know the poem better.

    • Agree: Old Prude
    • Replies: @syonredux

    Memorized Shakespeare for extra credit back in high school. Can still recite Hamlet’s soliloquy from memory. Beautiful stuff.

    I can see someone who really liked literature memorizing huge chunks of it. Heck, that’s what poets used to do before writing. You really do get to know the poem better.
     
    I can see memorizing Shakespeare and Milton, but Blake and Spenser? That's a bridge too far....
  42. I heard a story, probably apocryphal, that a hapless student in one of his classes had a term paper returned to them with no markings or comments, until the final page, where Bloom had written “admissions mistake.”

    • Replies: @Kronos
    http://dailycaller.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Screen-Shot-2016-07-07-at-9.34.17-AM.jpg
  43. I’ve been reading my way through Bloom’s Western Canon for about 5 years. Doing so has improved my mind more than anything else I’ve done.

  44. I admire Harold Bloom and certainly I appraise him as one of undeniable stalwarts of America’s ever diminishing literary ranks, and all that. But to be honest, I must digress that I admire the idea of Harold Bloom, eg, his significance in the cultural wars, more than I admire the actual criticism he wrote, which suffers from some several serious shortcomings.
    – For one, Bloom’s apotheosis of intellectual lightweights like Wordsworth, Shelley, Thoreau, and Emerson is difficult to take seriously. These sentimental nonentities simply lack the depth of the continental European soul.
    – His coverage of European literature (particularly more modern European literature) outside of the Anglosphere is rather paltry.
    – His journal articles (try sampling 5 or 6 from JSTOR) exhibit an alternately densely referential and pontificatory manner which tends to elide elucidating the local aesthetics and details which underwrite the greatness of the literature at hand. There are exceptions (“On the Necessity of Misreading” is one article I admire very much) but while I sympathize with Bloom’s paradigm, I very seldom come away from him feeling that I’ve been enlightened with magical insights I haven’t already gathered of my own volition. I can’t help but feel that a scholar like A.R. Ammons implements the type of critic for whom Bloom is the political sword.

    Having said that, Bloom had his moments, and of course I still like the guy. RIP.

    Ye “Rabblement of lemmings” be damned!

    • Replies: @Jack D

    while I sympathize with Bloom’s paradigm, I very seldom come away from him feeling that I’ve been enlightened with magical insights I haven’t already gathered of my own volition.
     
    I draw the opposite conclusion. Bloom's insights are logical and commonsensical, not magical and I find myself agreeing with them to the extent that I know what he is talking about. Since Bloom is at least 100x as well read as I am (if not more) I often don't, but if I do my homework I find that Bloom was (surprise surprise) right.
  45. @JohnnyD
    I wonder if people confuse Harold Bloom for Alan Bloom, who famously wrote "Closing of the American Mind." Besides having the same last name, both were friendly with the Neoconservatives and Saul Bellow. Also, they were both concerned about the rise of identity politics on college campuses.

    I confused them, I admit.

    I remember reading ‘The Closing of the American Mind’ when I was…13? and wanting to be a conservative intellectual and go to Thomas Aquinas or St. John’s (I had been reading National Review, OK?) and study The Great Tradition.

    Of course, I came to my senses–my folks didn’t have that much money. I imagine some alternate universe version of me bought a bowtie and made himself insufferable for 4 years.

    • Replies: @Old Palo Altan
    St John's: I went to the Santa Fe campus as a freshman when the place didn't even have a senior class yet. It was perhaps the most expensive college in America then, and my father was not unhappy when I transferred to UC Berkeley after only one year. I loved the place, but wanted a better library, which I did find; better teachers I didn't, but for a handful, like Slottman in history, and Craig in philosophy. St John's lately ruined I have heard, by a president who adds insult to injury by descending from Teddy Roosevelt, and still being a pompous Leftist ass.

    Thomas Aquinas: I knew the founding families intimately, as well as two of the first professors, now semi-mythical figures. Unlike St John's it is better than ever, but in an unsatisfying way: it turns out rather too many self-satisfied bigots who know quite a bit less than they think they do. But at least they are tuned in to the Divine.

    National Review: you were reading it too late. It ceased to be seriously conservative once Buckley realised that neo-Conservatism was suddenly the only game in town.

    Bow ties: strictly for pseuds, just as ascots are strictly for cads. But you know that.
  46. @Jack D
    Yes but detective fiction, science fiction and the short story are all considered more in the realm of commercial fiction than great literature where the novel is king. Poe was the first man in America to (try to) make a living just from writing and he didn't succeed very well because the market wasn't quite mature enough. Born too soon.

    Yes but detective fiction, science fiction and the short story are all considered more in the realm of commercial fiction than great literature where the novel is king.

    King? Dunno. I’m not sure that I would rank the novel over plays and poetry. After all, how many novelists are the equal of Shakespeare and Dante?

    As for the short story, I think that you’re underrating the form. A lot of impressive short fiction has been written over the last 150+ years: “Up in Michigan,” “Wakefield,” “Babylon Revisited,” “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” “The Dead,””The Man Who Would Be King,” “Bartleby,”Viy,””The Open Boat,” etc

    Poe was the first man in America to (try to) make a living just from writing and he didn’t succeed very well because the market wasn’t quite mature enough. Born too soon.

    Poe’s lack of success had more to do with his personal demons. Hawthorne, for example, was Poe’s elder by five years, yet he persevered and produced his greatest work in the ’40s and ’50s, The Scarlet Letter, The House of the Seven Gables, and The Blithedale Romance
    .

  47. @SFG
    Memorized Shakespeare for extra credit back in high school. Can still recite Hamlet's soliloquy from memory. Beautiful stuff.

    I can see someone who really liked literature memorizing huge chunks of it. Heck, that's what poets used to do before writing. You really do get to know the poem better.

    Memorized Shakespeare for extra credit back in high school. Can still recite Hamlet’s soliloquy from memory. Beautiful stuff.

    I can see someone who really liked literature memorizing huge chunks of it. Heck, that’s what poets used to do before writing. You really do get to know the poem better.

    I can see memorizing Shakespeare and Milton, but Blake and Spenser? That’s a bridge too far….

    • Replies: @SFG
    Eh, he was a literature professor. It wasn't nuts for him. I agree it would be waste of time for most people, but maybe he got some insight out of knowing the poems better, and if you're into that they're certainly a beautiful thing to know.

    Died a few days after teaching his last class, eh? 'Died with his boots on so to speak'...
  48. @syonredux

    Armed with a photographic memory, Professor Bloom could recite acres of poetry by heart — by his account, the whole of Shakespeare, Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” all of William Blake, the Hebraic Bible and Edmund Spenser’s monumental “The Fairie Queen.” …
     
    I can believe memorizing Shakespeare's literary corpus, Paradise Lost, and The Hebrew Bible. But all of William Blake and The Faerie Queene ? I think that Bloom was gilding the lily, as it were.

    Still, that being said, I've always appreciated Bloom for his defense of aesthetic values. And I fondly recall poring through his introductions in the Chelsea House collections (compilations of critical essays on canonical authors, works, and, in a distinctly Bloomian touch, literary characters) back in my High School days.

    Ave atque vale, Professor Bloom. You will be missed.

    Some people really can read extremely fast and remember most of it. A 400 page fiction or history book in an hour is not unusual. A 400 page book in an unfamiliar subject would take more time for me. But Bloom was obviously a lot smarter with a better memory than I.

    • Replies: @kaganovitch
    A 400 page fiction or history book in an hour is not unusual.

    On the contrary, I would think extremely unusual. That's almost 7 pages a minute or 1500-1800 wpm. Eye movement research would indicate this is an extreme outlier if not outright impossible.
  49. @Jack D
    I think Bloom was right about Poe. Poe was pretty good for a young nation and he is the father of modern detective fiction but among the giants of the Western canon he is a little pisher. Maybe if he had lived longer he might have grown but he loved the bottle too much as those of Irish descent are often wont to do.

    Well, who’d-a thunk it, but the Littlest Expert has a big-boy opinion about the author of “The Bells.”

    It’s too bad Steve doesn’t have a funnies page, but at least he’s got Jack D.

  50. @Bill

    He was the great theoretician of the short story as an art form
     
    Re: Poe as theoretician of the form, do you mean by example, or as a writer of literary criticism? I wasn’t aware of that. And that’s right, now I recall Bloom included Poe among the greats mainly based on his influence on the French symbolists, who apparently idolized him.

    He was the great theoretician of the short story as an art form

    Re: Poe as theoretician of the form, do you mean by example, or as a writer of literary criticism?

    Both. His short stories were important models for later writers (Kipling, Bierce, etc), and Poe’s essay “The Philosophy of Composition” provided an explicit theoretical framework for understanding the genre.

  51. @syonredux

    Armed with a photographic memory, Professor Bloom could recite acres of poetry by heart — by his account, the whole of Shakespeare, Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” all of William Blake, the Hebraic Bible and Edmund Spenser’s monumental “The Fairie Queen.” …
     
    I can believe memorizing Shakespeare's literary corpus, Paradise Lost, and The Hebrew Bible. But all of William Blake and The Faerie Queene ? I think that Bloom was gilding the lily, as it were.

    Still, that being said, I've always appreciated Bloom for his defense of aesthetic values. And I fondly recall poring through his introductions in the Chelsea House collections (compilations of critical essays on canonical authors, works, and, in a distinctly Bloomian touch, literary characters) back in my High School days.

    Ave atque vale, Professor Bloom. You will be missed.

    My favorite poem is John Brown’s Body by Stephen Vincent Benet. It’s a book length saga poem about the civil war. I still remember. That war was such a tragedy. It’s a beautiful saga.

    Sally Dupree Sally Dupree
    Her eyes were neither black nor gray.

  52. This shows that even Jewish intellectuals have gone down in quality.

    Back in the 90s there were guys like Harold Bloom and Allan Bloom who were very smart and wrote interesting things, even if you would not always agree with them.

    Now there’s… who? Ezra Klein?

    I can’t think of one recent literary critic (or come to think of, even movie critic) who is memorable or interesting nowadays. But to be fair, I don’t really follow the New York Times, so I wouldn’t know anyway.

    • Replies: @SFG
    Those were men of the right (loosely defined), conserving tradition and history. Klein is a man (loosely defined) of the left.

    I don't know who the equivalent would be--they don't train literature professors that way anymore. Taking a quick gander at people I know, Jordan Peterson's more of a self-help guru, though he does draw on the Western tradition for practical insights. Mencius Moldbug seems like he might have started to get there if he'd had an editor or some sort of mentor. Bronze Age Pervert...he's got some ideas, but I don't think they hang together all that well. Certainly going back to gang warfare doesn't seem too practical. I'm sure people here have better ideas.

    , @Pericles

    Now there’s… who? Ezra Klein?

     

    The English Department is a post-apocalyptic wasteland with half-rotted zombies dully staring at computer screens where once were actual people. Not necessarily great people but at least people.
    , @kaganovitch
    This shows that even Jewish intellectuals have gone down in quality.

    In Yiddish there is/was an aphorism "Vi es christelt zikh azoy yidelt zikh"= As the Christian world goes, so goes the Jewish world. I.e. Jewish culture is largely derivative of Christian culture. Jewish culture/norms reflect the norms in society at large.
  53. @Flip
    Show us the police report or there’s nothing to talk about.

    Good for you!! Touching thigh, buttocks and women’s breasts is sexual assault and battery.

    Police would take such a report. Hopefully they wouldn’t laugh in her face while scribbling it down. Anyone can report anything to the police. Doesn’t mean it’s the truth.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    Recently some states have updated their statutes of limitations so that touching a woman's thigh is like murder - the statute never expires. But back in those days the statute of limitations would have only been a few years ( I dunno exactly what it was in Connecticut in 1983 but I'd be shocked if it was more than 10) and it (probably) can't be retroactively revived once it has expired due to the prohibition on ex post facto laws. So if you go into the police station to report a sexual assault that happened in 1983 they are going to send you home.

    TBH, even if she had gone to the police the same day they wouldn't have done anything under the circumstances. Yes, if you are sitting on a bus and grope the stranger sitting next to you, it's a crime but in this context, it was always (pre Me Too) understood to be a "unwanted advance", not a crime. If men are not allowed to make advances in order to find out if they are wanted or not (and women rarely do) then humans would become extinct.
  54. @Jack D
    I think Bloom was right about Poe. Poe was pretty good for a young nation and he is the father of modern detective fiction but among the giants of the Western canon he is a little pisher. Maybe if he had lived longer he might have grown but he loved the bottle too much as those of Irish descent are often wont to do.

    Bloom was dismissive of Poe and King, so I had to wonder what his position was on my favorite American horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft. Bloom seems to at least respect Lovecraft. I like to think Bloom appreciated Lovecraft’s sense of humor which is lacking in Poe and King.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    Lovecraft doesn't make Bloom's list. I don't know for sure but I think he would have considered him too commercial. Bloom isn't wild about writers of popular fiction such as King and Rowling - he prefers more highbrow stuff.

    https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/l/literature/bloom/complete.html#C
    , @syonredux

    Bloom was dismissive of Poe and King, so I had to wonder what his position was on my favorite American horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft. Bloom seems to at least respect Lovecraft. I like to think Bloom appreciated Lovecraft’s sense of humor which is lacking in Poe and King.
     
    Bloom seems to have had a grudging interest in HPL's work:

    Lovecraft, whom I find very hard to get through, nevertheless receives a cogent defense in a great book of exegesis, Victoria Nelson's The Secret Life of Puppets (2001). For Nelson, Lovecraft takes us back to the major ancient and Renaissance heresies: Neoplatonism, Hermeticism, Gnosticism.

    Part of Lovecraft's peculiar power may be this deep link to ancient heresies,
     
    , @Redneck farmer
    The Woke are after Lovecraft now. They RIP him off, but they complain about him.
    , @YetAnotherAnon
    Not sure Lovecraft was a "great" writer, but he created several unique worlds - is there anyone quite like him?

    "West of Arkham the hills rise wild, and there are valleys with deep woods that no axe has ever cut. There are dark narrow glens where the trees slope fantastically, and where thin brooklets trickle without ever having caught the glint of sunlight. On the gentler slopes there are farms, ancient and rocky, with squat, moss-coated cottages brooding eternally over old New England secrets in the lee of great ledges..."
     
    It probably helps to discover him when you're 12 or 13, and learning new words like 'eldritch'.

    "Around the feeble fires dark forms were dancing, and Carter was curious as to what manner of beings they might be; for no healthy folk have ever been to Leng, and the place is known only by its fires and stone huts as seen from afar. Very slowly and awkwardly did those forms leap, and with an insane twisting and bending not good to behold..."
     
    , @MarzAat
    Poe no humor? I suggest his "Never Bet the Devil Your Head" as an example of humor. I would suggest Poe was a sophisticated fiction writer and theorist.

    I only know Bloom second-hand, but, as I recall, his disdain of commercial fiction shows up in his critiques of Tolkein. He seems to have missed the boat big time there.

    Anybody who says Shakespeare invented humanity is guilty of Bardolatry. Shakespeare gave us an amazing number of words and phrases. But, as I understand it, Bloom claimed Shakespeare was virtually without flaws. Checkout T. S. Eliot's criticism of Hamlet, as an example, of Shakespeare's grasp exceeding his reach.

    I have no patient for the school of resentment literary criticism, but it does help to not only view literature as art but steeped in the culture of the time. My Shakespeare professor made it clear that an Elizabethean steeped in contemporary ideas of theology and the nature of ghosts would see Hamlet differently than modern audiences would.
  55. The English language has changed so much in 450 years a glossary is needed to read it.

  56. Bloom in a Member’s Only Jacket discussing Blood Meridian. I share Bloom’s admiration for this novel although I strongly disagree with his interpretation connecting Blood Meridian to the NRA.

  57. I was unaware of the cosmic gaps between Jesus and Yahweh until I read Bloom.

    Another rambling interview.

    • Replies: @Jack D

    Professor Bloom even had a vaguely English accent, his Bronx roots notwithstanding
     
    From his NYT obit.

    I don't think that is true at all. He obviously exorcised the Bronx and Yiddish influences out of his speech but to me he sounds like what he is - a well educated American, not at all British.
  58. @syonredux

    Memorized Shakespeare for extra credit back in high school. Can still recite Hamlet’s soliloquy from memory. Beautiful stuff.

    I can see someone who really liked literature memorizing huge chunks of it. Heck, that’s what poets used to do before writing. You really do get to know the poem better.
     
    I can see memorizing Shakespeare and Milton, but Blake and Spenser? That's a bridge too far....

    Eh, he was a literature professor. It wasn’t nuts for him. I agree it would be waste of time for most people, but maybe he got some insight out of knowing the poems better, and if you’re into that they’re certainly a beautiful thing to know.

    Died a few days after teaching his last class, eh? ‘Died with his boots on so to speak’…

    • Replies: @syonredux

    Eh, he was a literature professor.
     
    So am I. And I can't imagine memorizing Spenser, let alone Blake. If Bloom did it, my hat's off to him. There's a fellow who could have given Funes a run for his money.
  59. @MC
    The dig at "Mormon theme parks," is a rather idiosyncratic one, albeit amusing. I'm a Latter-day Saint and I'm only aware of one such park: https://www.polynesia.com/

    Maybe he had taken a Hawaiian vacation just before writing that?

    Bloom wrote a very interesting book called The American Religion which was his own very idiosyncratic interpretation of the American religious experience and its different manifestations. If I remember correctly, he believed that American religions – whether Jewish, Christian, etc. – all shared an essential element of gnosisticm that would make them unrecognizable to Europeans.

    I remember that he seemed to have an abiding fondness for Mormons, seeming to see them as similar to Jews in their creation of their own culture and origin story. He felt that Mormons, like Jews, would always be Mormons even if they left the faith.

    • Replies: @gregor
    I left a very similar reply without noticing your post. Mormons and Jews are interesting to compare and contrast. One thing though (contra Bloom) is that at present Mormonism is still fundamentally credal and there’s no “reform” version like Judaism. And it’s difficult to see such a thing arising any time soon given that it’s very centralized and Salt Lake runs a pretty tight ship (excommunication, etc). Whether intentional or not, Mormonism is set up to pretty much force out people who aren’t serious. And (again contra Bloom) my impression is that lapsed members often don’t retain much secular Mormon identity, certainly nothing like the phenomenon of the secular Jew.

    Somewhat related: I wonder if there might be a market for a “fake” religion for conservatives. That is to say something that’s theologically lenient and consistent with modern science but simultaneously traditional and non-degenerate. Like Episcopalian but not completely gay.
  60. @Clifford Brown
    Bloom was dismissive of Poe and King, so I had to wonder what his position was on my favorite American horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft. Bloom seems to at least respect Lovecraft. I like to think Bloom appreciated Lovecraft's sense of humor which is lacking in Poe and King.

    Lovecraft doesn’t make Bloom’s list. I don’t know for sure but I think he would have considered him too commercial. Bloom isn’t wild about writers of popular fiction such as King and Rowling – he prefers more highbrow stuff.

    https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/l/literature/bloom/complete.html#C

    • Replies: @Autochthon
    These are goofy distinctions without differences. Popularity, commercial success, and affectations about what is or is not patrician or plebian vary wildly. Shakespeare was every bit the Stephen King of his day (in commercial appeal, I mean; he was of course infinitely more talented): crowds of penny-stinkers packed the Globe to hear his plays. Likewise Dickens, whose works, serially published, were devoured enthusiastically by stevedores eating lunch when they picked up the latest installments in the day's paper; Dickens himself was acclaimed for hia public readings on globetrotting tours. Hell, Homeric epics were recited to large crowds, and the masterpieces of Aeschylus and Sophocles were performed at wild festivals one would not be too out of line comparing to Sundance, South by Southwest, or Bestival.

    On the other hand, Kafka died an unappreciated insurance agent! Likewise Emily Dickenson. Keats (!) sold only about two hundred copies of his poetry during his lifetime.

    I'm no expert on his works, but my understanding is Bloom (correctly) emphasised quality aa the measure of literature (to broadly include prose, drama, or poetry) – not commercial appeal or the lack thereof.

    , @syonredux

    Lovecraft doesn’t make Bloom’s list. I don’t know for sure but I think he would have considered him too commercial.
     
    "Commercial" is about the last term that I would use for HPL's work.

    Bloom isn’t wild about writers of popular fiction such as King and Rowling – he prefers more highbrow stuff.
     
    Bloom thinks quite highly of Dickens, Twain, and Kipling. Those fellows were huge sellers during their lifetimes and were read by people from all walks of life.
  61. @Dumbo
    This shows that even Jewish intellectuals have gone down in quality.

    Back in the 90s there were guys like Harold Bloom and Allan Bloom who were very smart and wrote interesting things, even if you would not always agree with them.

    Now there's... who? Ezra Klein?

    I can't think of one recent literary critic (or come to think of, even movie critic) who is memorable or interesting nowadays. But to be fair, I don't really follow the New York Times, so I wouldn't know anyway.

    Those were men of the right (loosely defined), conserving tradition and history. Klein is a man (loosely defined) of the left.

    I don’t know who the equivalent would be–they don’t train literature professors that way anymore. Taking a quick gander at people I know, Jordan Peterson’s more of a self-help guru, though he does draw on the Western tradition for practical insights. Mencius Moldbug seems like he might have started to get there if he’d had an editor or some sort of mentor. Bronze Age Pervert…he’s got some ideas, but I don’t think they hang together all that well. Certainly going back to gang warfare doesn’t seem too practical. I’m sure people here have better ideas.

  62. @asdf
    Don't underestimate Lesbian Eskimo lit.

    Today class we’ll be reading author so-and-so’s book “Licking Snow.” It details sexual hunger in a natural wilderness of scarcity. Snow is white, it’s tasteless, and it’s oppresses people with bitter cold. You can’t see cold, but it oppresses people all the same.

    • Replies: @Lurker
    Word of warning - be sure to skip past the yellow chapter.
  63. @anonymous
    wwebd said ----- Bill - Bloom was not really a freak of nature - of course he was, in a limited way, but that was not what was most interesting about him - he was one of those people who realize, before they even get to college, that their intellectual gifts are limited, and who determine that they are going to make the best of it. I think he did not actually claim to memorize the things he was claimed to memorize, he merely was saying (a) I could recite for a few hours all the lines I remember from my beloved Shakespeare (I am sure he could) and (b) there are other writers I could almost do the same for, not hour after hour of recitation, but if you told me one line of theirs I could probably guess, and would almost always be right, at the next line. Jimi Hendrix once admitted that he thought he was not all that great a musician but if he had ever heard a good lick on electric guitar, he remembered it and there were thousands of ways he could play variations on what he had memorized. Same thing, Bloom and Hendrix were basically the same guy, belated artists who were almost never original but who knew how to riff on that which was good and which was ancient, and on that which was good and not so ancient.

    Poor little Janni von Neumann had a similar skill when it came to numbers and algorithms, sure he and Harold both had no problem finding jobs in academia, but both were more or less , as you said, people whose main skill was a photographic memory. In the case of von Neumann, the sad side was that, as he approached death, he realized, with the cold shudder any of us would experience, in similar circumstances, that he was little more than a slightly less autistic Sheldon Cooper - How I wish he had been my friend, I would have explained to him that God loves us all, and none of us were ever expected to be better than we could have been ..... (and yes, here on a comments section in 2019 you read correctly that someone said he was sad that he was not able to give poor Janni von Neumann advice ...... I meant what I said).

    Bloom, in his later old man books (and I have a more photographic memory than he had, and I know what I am saying) was less critical than he had been in his middle aged books of those of us who KNOW GOD LOVES US

    you can track it if you want, the older he got the more accepting he was ---- and I have read and reviewed a few of his books, and I know what he is talking about ---- the more accepting he was of the fact that it does not matter if we are poets, it does not matter if we are eloquent ....

    and while he kept saying, again and again , the only eternity for humans is the eternity of having said lasting words of genius.... (and he knew he was not telling the truth when he said that, trust me, I know how these guys operate)


    I am fairly certain - I could be wrong, but trust me, I know what I am talking about - I am fairly certain, having read the parts of his books in which he discussed eternity, and having noticed that he grew less and less clueless over the years -----that as the years went by he left clues that he was ashamed of his youthful gnosticism, and that he wanted to know the real truth - which begins with this, God loves us all - I am fairly certain that, as the years went by, that he eventually understood that genius is nothing, poetry is nothing, literary fame is nothing ....

    but there is an eternal life waiting for anyone who seeks God and who is willing to follow His commandments. Nobody cares which of us were poets, which of us had photographic memories. Because God loves us all.

    MEH wake up ! The world is real.

  64. @Alden
    Good for you!! Touching thigh, buttocks and women's breasts is sexual assault and battery.

    Police would take such a report. Hopefully they wouldn’t laugh in her face while scribbling it down. Anyone can report anything to the police. Doesn’t mean it’s the truth.

    Recently some states have updated their statutes of limitations so that touching a woman’s thigh is like murder – the statute never expires. But back in those days the statute of limitations would have only been a few years ( I dunno exactly what it was in Connecticut in 1983 but I’d be shocked if it was more than 10) and it (probably) can’t be retroactively revived once it has expired due to the prohibition on ex post facto laws. So if you go into the police station to report a sexual assault that happened in 1983 they are going to send you home.

    TBH, even if she had gone to the police the same day they wouldn’t have done anything under the circumstances. Yes, if you are sitting on a bus and grope the stranger sitting next to you, it’s a crime but in this context, it was always (pre Me Too) understood to be a “unwanted advance”, not a crime. If men are not allowed to make advances in order to find out if they are wanted or not (and women rarely do) then humans would become extinct.

    • Replies: @Charon

    If men are not allowed to make advances in order to find out if they are wanted or not (and women rarely do) then humans would become extinct.
     
    So there's a silver lining to all this madness after all. Good to know.
  65. @SimpleSong
    I heard a story, probably apocryphal, that a hapless student in one of his classes had a term paper returned to them with no markings or comments, until the final page, where Bloom had written "admissions mistake."

  66. @Clifford Brown
    I was unaware of the cosmic gaps between Jesus and Yahweh until I read Bloom.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iovdjZi4xTI

    Another rambling interview.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Spv0rln-egY

    Professor Bloom even had a vaguely English accent, his Bronx roots notwithstanding

    From his NYT obit.

    I don’t think that is true at all. He obviously exorcised the Bronx and Yiddish influences out of his speech but to me he sounds like what he is – a well educated American, not at all British.

  67. I wonder if he had the same command of Latin as Hebrew. Doubtful.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    The question is not whether his Hebrew was better than his Latin. Probably it was since he was raised as an Orthodox Jew and would have learned to read Hebrew at around the same time he learned to read English (or even before) while Latin came later.

    The question is, was his Latin better than yours? I'll bet it was.
  68. @advancedatheist
    Ironically Karl Marx grew up classically educated, and reportedly as an adult he maintained enough fluency to read Aeschylus’ tragedies in the original Greek for pleasure. Not to mention that he could also recite Dante, Shakespeare and Goethe from memory. Many of the early communists similarly put the effort into cultivating their minds with Western literature, music and art. Even Che Guevara, from a later generation, grew up in an educated family with a large library in the household, and reportedly he read voraciously and kept notebooks about the ideas he found in his reading.

    By contrast, the heirs of the leftist tradition who try to engineer our culture these days just don’t come across as cultivated and thoughtful people who could discuss ideas competently. For example, Ta-Nehisi Coates, a current celebrity “intellectual,” admitted in an interview a few years ago that he had never heard of St. Augustine.

    Of course if you knock 50 points of IQ off by browning the critic population ( I would guesstimate Bloom at 150 based on his prodigious memory, Coates probably has trouble remembering his own phone # and MAYBE breaks 100 on a good day) then the quality of intellectual discourse is going to go down. Welcome to Idiocracy!

  69. @advancedatheist
    Ironically Karl Marx grew up classically educated, and reportedly as an adult he maintained enough fluency to read Aeschylus’ tragedies in the original Greek for pleasure. Not to mention that he could also recite Dante, Shakespeare and Goethe from memory. Many of the early communists similarly put the effort into cultivating their minds with Western literature, music and art. Even Che Guevara, from a later generation, grew up in an educated family with a large library in the household, and reportedly he read voraciously and kept notebooks about the ideas he found in his reading.

    By contrast, the heirs of the leftist tradition who try to engineer our culture these days just don’t come across as cultivated and thoughtful people who could discuss ideas competently. For example, Ta-Nehisi Coates, a current celebrity “intellectual,” admitted in an interview a few years ago that he had never heard of St. Augustine.

    At the most recent Labour conference, the party proposed a reduction in the working week to 36 hours, a maximum limit for the percentage for privately-educated high-schoolers in the annual intake of state-subsidized universities, and the unification of various local schemes into a national social care system, free at the point of care. That is Marxist left.

    American private college students, derping about LGBT sexuality and race imbalances, are not leftists by any measure.

    Were you not indoctrinated about the supposed dangers of “Marxism”, you would describe the woke as “Nazis”, or “antiSemites”, or some other label you hardly understand, but “know” it should be bad.

    By repeating “insults” you were brainwashed with by Reaganites during kindergarten, you prove yourself as low as the woke. Namecalling should remain in the kindergartens.

    • Replies: @Stan Adams
    Many American private-college students are self-professed admirers of socialism. And not all of them are woke. Some of the most HBD-aware twentysomethings I know are outspoken proponents of redistributive economic policies.

    Proposals for a guaranteed minimum income and government subsidies for education, housing, and health care enjoy widespread support among middle- and upper-middle-class youth - the kids who have the most to lose. They don't see the downside.

    Fewer and fewer of these kids have any real ties to heritage America.

    A recent med-school graduate of my acquaintance is always going on about the aggressive homeless panhandlers who accost him on his commute. (Racially, he's a Thai/Jewish/German-Catholic mix. He's openly gay.) But he doesn't blame the bums. His tirades invariably end with a denunciation of the evil rich white males who refuse to subsidize an adequate social safety net.

    The other day, he was triggered when his boomer father - a European-born mischling - referred to a power outage as a "blackout."
    , @John Gruskos

    not leftists by any measure
     
    On the contrary, they are the logical next step from your version of leftism. (And they got where they are with help from genuine Marxists, including Trotsky, Gramsci and the Frankfurt School.)

    Leftists promise utopia via the application of absolute equality to some aspect of life.

    When one type of equality fails to produce paradise, a more fundamental type of equality is proposed.

    Those who oppose their plans are the "privileged" who must be defeated before paradise can be attained.

    The history of the left is thus the history of an ever expanding definition of the "class enemy"

    For the philosophes, believers in equality before an inert God, priests were the class enemy.

    The Jacobins, demanding equality before the law, added kings and nobles to the list, then the Marxists, striving for economic equality, added capitalists to the list of class enemies, and the Leninists expanded the definition of "capitalist" as far as possible, to even include prosperous peasants ("kulaks").

    The SJWs, obsessed with racial and sexual equality, are merely expanding the definition of "class enemy" a bit further to include all White Christian men.

    Taking things a step further still, radical environmentalists consider the entire human race to be the class enemy. The presence of plants, animals, fungi and microbes on this planet is legitimate, but the presence of humans and their influence on the environment is fundamentally illegitimate and must be curtailed.

    And it doesn't end there.

    The reducio ad absurdum of leftism is David Pearce (hedweb.com), who considers all "Darwinism life forms" to be the class enemy which must be abolished and replaced by new genetically engineered life forms which won't cause suffering for others, unlike the evil life forms which currently exist.

    He rails against lions, the beautiful yet cruel "SS of the Serengeti", with the same hatred that you reserve for those dastardly capitalists, or that Marat had for the aristocrats, or that the SJWs have for straight White men.

    European Christian civilization is relatively egalitarian, compared to the other major civilization, and this is a big reason for its success. The relatively egalitarian aspects of European Christian civilization should be cherished and preserved. Monogamy should be defended, and wisdom dictates populist measures which tend to preserve the West's traditional relatively egalitarian distribution of wealth against the globalist tendency towards vast disparities.

    But the left's pursuit of absolute equality is a recipe for madness and disaster.
  70. @syonredux
    Here's a nice piece by Bloom on the erosion of critical standards:

    Dumbing down American readers
    By Harold Bloom, 9/24/2003

    THE DECISION to give the National Book Foundation's annual award for "distinguished contribution" to Stephen King is extraordinary, another low in the shocking process of dumbing down our cultural life. I've described King in the past as a writer of penny dreadfuls, but perhaps even that is too kind. He shares nothing with Edgar Allan Poe. What he is is an immensely inadequate writer on a sentence-by-sentence, paragraph-by-paragraph, book-by-book basis. The publishing industry has stooped terribly low to bestow on King a lifetime award that has previously gone to the novelists Saul Bellow and Philip Roth and to playwright Arthur Miller. By awarding it to King they recognize nothing but the commercial value of his books, which sell in the millions but do little more for humanity than keep the publishing world afloat. If this is going to be the criterion in the future, then perhaps next year the committee should give its award for distinguished contribution to Danielle Steel, and surely the Nobel Prize for literature should go to J.K. Rowling.
     

    What's happening is part of a phenomenon I wrote about a couple of years ago when I was asked to comment on Rowling. I went to the Yale University bookstore and bought and read a copy of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." I suffered a great deal in the process. The writing was dreadful; the book was terrible. As I read, I noticed that every time a character went for a walk, the author wrote instead that the character "stretched his legs." I began marking on the back of an envelope every time that phrase was repeated. I stopped only after I had marked the envelope several dozen times. I was incredulous. Rowling's mind is so governed by cliches and dead metaphors that she has no other style of writing.
     

    But when I wrote that in a newspaper, I was denounced. I was told that children would now read only J.K. Rowling, and I was asked whether that wasn't, after all, better than reading nothing at all? If Rowling was what it took to make them pick up a book, wasn't that a good thing?
     

    It is not. "Harry Potter" will not lead our children on to Kipling's "Just So Stories" or his "Jungle Book." It will not lead them to Thurber's "Thirteen Clocks" or Kenneth Grahame's "Wind in the Willows" or Lewis Carroll's "Alice."
     

    Later I read a lavish, loving review of Harry Potter by the same Stephen King. He wrote something to the effect of, "If these kids are reading Harry Potter at 11 or 12, then when they get older they will go on to read Stephen King." And he was quite right. He was not being ironic. When you read "Harry Potter" you are, in fact, trained to read Stephen King.

     


    I began as a scholar of the romantic poets. In the 1950s and early 1960s, it was understood that the great English romantic poets were Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, John Keats, William Blake, Samuel Taylor Coleridge. But today they are Felicia Hemans, Charlotte Smith, Mary Tighe, Laetitia Landon, and others who just can't write. A fourth-rate playwright like Aphra Behn is being taught instead of Shakespeare in many curriculums across the country.

     

    http://archive.boston.com/news/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2003/09/24/dumbing_down_american_readers/

    Bloom was right, of course, about the abysmal writing in Harry Potter. Bloom probably didn’t point out one more of the many failings of that series which is the fictional sport of “quidditch,” a game invented by someone who has clearly never played, or even watched, any sports in her life.

    In quidditch, each “goal” scores one point, but if one team captures the other team’s magic ball, it is worth something like 100 points, essentially making all the other goals worthless.

    As one who has suffered through watching every movie in the series with my kid, and tried to read the books, this game drives me batty, especially since the fans of the series seem to think Rowling’s creation of this game is such a stroke of brilliance.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    As was pointed out on another recent thread, (even putting aside all the magic broomsticks, etc.) inventing the rules of a new game that is appealing to both players and spectators is not as easy as it looks and is not often done successfully for this reason. Most games evolve rather than being invented in one go. Although Naismith invented basketball pretty much in one go, it didn't contain all of the elements of the modern game - e.g. he didn't include dribbling in his rules.
    , @Pericles

    “quidditch,” a game invented by someone who has clearly never played, or even watched, any sports in her life.

    In quidditch, each “goal” scores one point, but if one team captures the other team’s magic ball, it is worth something like 100 points, essentially making all the other goals worthless.

     

    It does, I believe, give some insight into how women experience sports.
    , @slumber_j
    I'm no apologist for Harry Potter or Ms. Rowling, but I'm pretty sure the Eton Wall Game has a similar scoring system, wherein a goal pretty much trumps whatever other ways there are of scoring points. Which sounds bad, except that practically nobody ever scores a goal.
    , @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    Reading mediocre Rowling makes Beverly Cleary seem like Shakespeare by comparison.
    , @Ibound1
    I only ever read the first Harry Potter book because in those days I read any book my children wanted to read. I found the book so ordinary. My wife asked me what it was about and I told her: They rewrote Bewitched for kids. Remind me not to become a literary agent. I would have predicted very low sales.
  71. @Bill
    Back in the 1990’s I remember checking his list of recommended books (in The Western Canon) before choosing a book to read, because he had read everything, and I mean that almost literally. A freak of nature. I’m surprised they didn’t mention his theory of “anxiety of influence,” which is what I mainly remember him for. He also gathered good (ie not postmodernist) critical essays on a lot of major works, which id occasionally peruse. (I remember being disappointed at how poorly he regarded the works of Edgar Allan Poe.) He was Camille Paglias phd advisor as well. Amazing to learn he was still teaching. While I’m glad his obituary appears to be written endearingly and sans intolerably woke barbs and condescension, I suspect his ethnicity might’ve had something to do with that. Because he was an uncompromising advocate of what is now considered white “supremacy.”

    Back in the 1990’s I remember checking his list of recommended books (in The Western Canon) before choosing a book to read, because he had read everything,

    He didn’t include a single book by Henry Williamson.

  72. @BB753
    I wonder if he had the same command of Latin as Hebrew. Doubtful.

    The question is not whether his Hebrew was better than his Latin. Probably it was since he was raised as an Orthodox Jew and would have learned to read Hebrew at around the same time he learned to read English (or even before) while Latin came later.

    The question is, was his Latin better than yours? I’ll bet it was.

    • Replies: @BB753
    We'll never know.
    , @kaganovitch
    His Hebrew was not all that great(layman level), as witness his Book of J where he makes obvious grammatical mistakes in transliterating Hebrew to English. No comparison to Robert Alter
  73. @jpp
    I admire Harold Bloom and certainly I appraise him as one of undeniable stalwarts of America's ever diminishing literary ranks, and all that. But to be honest, I must digress that I admire the idea of Harold Bloom, eg, his significance in the cultural wars, more than I admire the actual criticism he wrote, which suffers from some several serious shortcomings.
    - For one, Bloom's apotheosis of intellectual lightweights like Wordsworth, Shelley, Thoreau, and Emerson is difficult to take seriously. These sentimental nonentities simply lack the depth of the continental European soul.
    - His coverage of European literature (particularly more modern European literature) outside of the Anglosphere is rather paltry.
    - His journal articles (try sampling 5 or 6 from JSTOR) exhibit an alternately densely referential and pontificatory manner which tends to elide elucidating the local aesthetics and details which underwrite the greatness of the literature at hand. There are exceptions ("On the Necessity of Misreading" is one article I admire very much) but while I sympathize with Bloom's paradigm, I very seldom come away from him feeling that I've been enlightened with magical insights I haven't already gathered of my own volition. I can't help but feel that a scholar like A.R. Ammons implements the type of critic for whom Bloom is the political sword.

    Having said that, Bloom had his moments, and of course I still like the guy. RIP.

    Ye "Rabblement of lemmings" be damned!

    while I sympathize with Bloom’s paradigm, I very seldom come away from him feeling that I’ve been enlightened with magical insights I haven’t already gathered of my own volition.

    I draw the opposite conclusion. Bloom’s insights are logical and commonsensical, not magical and I find myself agreeing with them to the extent that I know what he is talking about. Since Bloom is at least 100x as well read as I am (if not more) I often don’t, but if I do my homework I find that Bloom was (surprise surprise) right.

    • Replies: @jpp
    As one representative example, I might refer you to the article "POETIC CROSSING, II: AMERICAN STANCES", which strikes me as a decent instantiation of the self indulgence and inattentiveness to language towards which I aver Bloom's criticism inclines. I might also refer you to the 1976 NY Times Article (which, I assure you, bears NO resemblance to any recent NY Times columns) "Poetry and Repression" by Christopher Ricks (which you should be able to freely google search), which performs with an apposite sense of humor certain necessary deeds of deflation.


    As somewhat of a side matter, I also profess my surprise that in a somewhat antisemite leaning forum like UNZ Review, nobody here takes issue with Bloom's attempt to put TS Eliot / Ezra Pound in their places by demoting their stature within the cannon.

  74. @Jack D
    Lovecraft doesn't make Bloom's list. I don't know for sure but I think he would have considered him too commercial. Bloom isn't wild about writers of popular fiction such as King and Rowling - he prefers more highbrow stuff.

    https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/l/literature/bloom/complete.html#C

    These are goofy distinctions without differences. Popularity, commercial success, and affectations about what is or is not patrician or plebian vary wildly. Shakespeare was every bit the Stephen King of his day (in commercial appeal, I mean; he was of course infinitely more talented): crowds of penny-stinkers packed the Globe to hear his plays. Likewise Dickens, whose works, serially published, were devoured enthusiastically by stevedores eating lunch when they picked up the latest installments in the day’s paper; Dickens himself was acclaimed for hia public readings on globetrotting tours. Hell, Homeric epics were recited to large crowds, and the masterpieces of Aeschylus and Sophocles were performed at wild festivals one would not be too out of line comparing to Sundance, South by Southwest, or Bestival.

    On the other hand, Kafka died an unappreciated insurance agent! Likewise Emily Dickenson. Keats (!) sold only about two hundred copies of his poetry during his lifetime.

    I’m no expert on his works, but my understanding is Bloom (correctly) emphasised quality aa the measure of literature (to broadly include prose, drama, or poetry) – not commercial appeal or the lack thereof.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    The true test is the test of time.

    Ultimately, merit DOES equal commercial appeal, although often not in the author's lifetime. How many millions of copies of Kafka works have been printed by now in every language?

    OTOH, short term commercial appeal does not always equal merit - there is lots of schlocky literary Wonder Bread full of empty calories that is sold by the ton and goes stale as quickly as bread.
    , @jpp
    I think your assessment is a bit off. Bloom sometimes gets associated with the paradigm that intrinsic aesthetics is the criterion of a literary work. This is not wholly incongruent. But Bloom's criticism typically avoids deep diving into the specific lyricism or symbolism of poems, or exploring the technical explorations of their figurative devices. Its shtick is to construe the genealogical lineages of literature, the weight of inherited tradition on the psychology of literary figures, and how specific literary figures carry the torch forward within these traditions. Consult for instance, Bloom's obsession with Kabbalah or his most anthologized work, The Anxiety of Influence.

    The point I hasten to underscore is that not believing that literature should be evaluated on the basis of commercial qualities, SJW related qualities, or whatever other absurd criterion is not tantamount to believing that literature should be evaluated on its intrinsic merits.

  75. @Jack D
    I think Bloom was right about Poe. Poe was pretty good for a young nation and he is the father of modern detective fiction but among the giants of the Western canon he is a little pisher. Maybe if he had lived longer he might have grown but he loved the bottle too much as those of Irish descent are often wont to do.

    he loved the bottle too much as those of Irish descent are often wont to do

    Since you mention Hart Crane…

    Bloom loved Crane’s poetry since boyhood and kept returning to him. I could never find anything in Crane, who seems like an Eliot wannabe out of his depth. But I’m not Bloom, so…

    • Replies: @Jack D
    In addition to the bottle, Crane loved the rough trade and this combination led to his suicide.

    I can't help myself - I know that I should be enlightened in such matters but I find gay love poetry icky and even when he has changed "he" to "she" I know that he really means "he" and it is repulsive to me on a visceral level.

  76. @anonymous
    wwebd said ----- Bill - Bloom was not really a freak of nature - of course he was, in a limited way, but that was not what was most interesting about him - he was one of those people who realize, before they even get to college, that their intellectual gifts are limited, and who determine that they are going to make the best of it. I think he did not actually claim to memorize the things he was claimed to memorize, he merely was saying (a) I could recite for a few hours all the lines I remember from my beloved Shakespeare (I am sure he could) and (b) there are other writers I could almost do the same for, not hour after hour of recitation, but if you told me one line of theirs I could probably guess, and would almost always be right, at the next line. Jimi Hendrix once admitted that he thought he was not all that great a musician but if he had ever heard a good lick on electric guitar, he remembered it and there were thousands of ways he could play variations on what he had memorized. Same thing, Bloom and Hendrix were basically the same guy, belated artists who were almost never original but who knew how to riff on that which was good and which was ancient, and on that which was good and not so ancient.

    Poor little Janni von Neumann had a similar skill when it came to numbers and algorithms, sure he and Harold both had no problem finding jobs in academia, but both were more or less , as you said, people whose main skill was a photographic memory. In the case of von Neumann, the sad side was that, as he approached death, he realized, with the cold shudder any of us would experience, in similar circumstances, that he was little more than a slightly less autistic Sheldon Cooper - How I wish he had been my friend, I would have explained to him that God loves us all, and none of us were ever expected to be better than we could have been ..... (and yes, here on a comments section in 2019 you read correctly that someone said he was sad that he was not able to give poor Janni von Neumann advice ...... I meant what I said).

    Bloom, in his later old man books (and I have a more photographic memory than he had, and I know what I am saying) was less critical than he had been in his middle aged books of those of us who KNOW GOD LOVES US

    you can track it if you want, the older he got the more accepting he was ---- and I have read and reviewed a few of his books, and I know what he is talking about ---- the more accepting he was of the fact that it does not matter if we are poets, it does not matter if we are eloquent ....

    and while he kept saying, again and again , the only eternity for humans is the eternity of having said lasting words of genius.... (and he knew he was not telling the truth when he said that, trust me, I know how these guys operate)


    I am fairly certain - I could be wrong, but trust me, I know what I am talking about - I am fairly certain, having read the parts of his books in which he discussed eternity, and having noticed that he grew less and less clueless over the years -----that as the years went by he left clues that he was ashamed of his youthful gnosticism, and that he wanted to know the real truth - which begins with this, God loves us all - I am fairly certain that, as the years went by, that he eventually understood that genius is nothing, poetry is nothing, literary fame is nothing ....

    but there is an eternal life waiting for anyone who seeks God and who is willing to follow His commandments. Nobody cares which of us were poets, which of us had photographic memories. Because God loves us all.

    I am fairly certain – I could be wrong, but trust me, I know what I am talking about – I am fairly certain

    I truly enjoy these disjointed pseudo-philosophical emanations we regularly get here from ‘anonymous’ contributors. They’re almost always self-absorbed, insistently demanding of respect, and rife with self-contradiction. Truly a pleasure, if you’re perverse about these things, as I am.

    • Replies: @black sea
    Yes, nothing inspires trust in another person's judgement quite like the persistent reiteration of "trust me, I know what I'm talking about."
  77. @Jack D

    while I sympathize with Bloom’s paradigm, I very seldom come away from him feeling that I’ve been enlightened with magical insights I haven’t already gathered of my own volition.
     
    I draw the opposite conclusion. Bloom's insights are logical and commonsensical, not magical and I find myself agreeing with them to the extent that I know what he is talking about. Since Bloom is at least 100x as well read as I am (if not more) I often don't, but if I do my homework I find that Bloom was (surprise surprise) right.

    As one representative example, I might refer you to the article “POETIC CROSSING, II: AMERICAN STANCES”, which strikes me as a decent instantiation of the self indulgence and inattentiveness to language towards which I aver Bloom’s criticism inclines. I might also refer you to the 1976 NY Times Article (which, I assure you, bears NO resemblance to any recent NY Times columns) “Poetry and Repression” by Christopher Ricks (which you should be able to freely google search), which performs with an apposite sense of humor certain necessary deeds of deflation.

    As somewhat of a side matter, I also profess my surprise that in a somewhat antisemite leaning forum like UNZ Review, nobody here takes issue with Bloom’s attempt to put TS Eliot / Ezra Pound in their places by demoting their stature within the cannon.

    • Replies: @Anonymous

    As somewhat of a side matter, I also profess my surprise that in a somewhat antisemite leaning forum like UNZ Review, nobody here takes issue with Bloom’s attempt to put TS Eliot / Ezra Pound in their places by demoting their stature within the cannon.
     
    Bloom was, presumably, Jewish, but since we aren't irrational "antisemites" [sic], we don't let that interfere too much with admiring a bright guy, just as most of us would agree Feynman and Von Neumann were really, really smart.
  78. @syonredux
    More Bloom:


    They Have the Numbers; We, The Heights

    My title is from Thucydides and is spoken by the Spartan commander at Thermopylae. Culturally, we are at Thermopylae: the multiculturalists, the hordes of camp- followers afflicted by the French diseases, the mock-feminists, the commissars, the gender-and-power freaks, the hosts of new historicists and old materialists—all stand below us. They will surge up and we may be overcome; our universities are already travesties, and our journalists parody our professors of "cultural studies."
     

    That 1996 anthology is one of the provocations for this essay, since it seems to me a monumental representation of the enemies of the aesthetic who are in the act of overwhelming us. It is of a badness not to be believed, because it follows the criteria now operative: what matters most are the race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, and political purpose of the would-be poet. I ardently wish I were being hyperbolical, but in fact I am exercising restraint, very difficult for a lifelong aesthete at the age of sixty-seven. One cannot expect every attempt at poetry to rival Chaucer and Shakespeare, Milton and Wordsworth, Whitman and Dickinson, Wallace Stevens and Hart Crane. But those poets, and their peers, set the measure: any who aspire to poetry must keep such exemplars always in mind. Sincerity, as the divine Oscar Wilde assured us, is not nearly enough to generate a poem. Bursting with sincerity, the 1996 volume is a Stuffed Owl of bad verse, and of much badness that is neither verse nor prose.
     

    Scolding the universities, or the media, is useless: enormous social pressures—that do not affect the people in general, or the Republican Congress and not very Democratic president the people elected—have been loosed upon institutions hopelessly vulnerable to cultural guilt. Every variety of "studies" at last will be housed: if sexual orientation is to be placed with race, ethnic group, and gender as sources of aesthetic and cognitive values, then why should we not have "Sado-Masochistic Studies," in particular honor of the god of resentment, the late Michel Foucault? If there is a Homosexual Poetic, then why not a Poetics of Pain? If representation-by-category is to be the law of the universities, and of all those they influence, what "minority" is to be excluded? Shakespeare and Dante were European males; is that worth remarking?
     

    Yet nearly all current published criticism of Wordsworth and almost any class taught on him at our universities and colleges now actively condemn this greatest of all modern poets on political grounds, because he "betrayed" his early allegiance to the French Revolution! By our means test, Wordsworth cannot pass. So absurd have the professors become that I can see no way to salvage literary study except to abolish tenure. Tenure is an archaic survival anyway, but it becomes pernicious when faculties are crowded by thousands of ideologues, who resent Wordsworth even as they resent Shakespeare. When I was a young teacher of poetry at Yale, the English Romantic poets were Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, and Keats, as well as Blake and Shelley, whose place in the canon I helped restore. On hundreds of campuses now, these poets have to share attention with the "women Romantic poets": Felicia Hemans, Laetitia Landon, Charlotte Smith, and Mary Tighe, among some others. These were, to understate, justly neglected verse writers, though superior to many in The Best American Poetry 1996. Anthologies of seventeenth-century English literature now give us, side by side with Donne, Ben Johnson, and Milton, a group including the Duchess of Newcastle, Lady Mary Chudleigh, Anne Killigrew, and the venerated Aphra Behn. I have seen my profession dying for over a quarter century now, and in another decade it may be dead. If its function is to appreciate and teach Laetitia Landon and Lady Mary Chudleigh, then the demise cannot come too soon.

     


    One asks again: How could this have happened, and not just in the universities but in the publishing world and in the media? The New York Times essentially is now a countercultural newspaper. When Maya Angelou read a poem for Clinton's first inauguration, the Times printed the text, a monument of sincerity, and in an editorial praised this effusion for its "Whitmanian amplitudes." Recently, one of the Times rock critics proclaimed our contemporary Mozart to be the glyph formerly known as Prince. Literary satire is impossible when the Times exceeds Nathaniel West and Terry Southern in outrageousness. If all aesthetic and cognitive standards are abandoned by professors and journalists alike, then the tradition of American poetry can survive only by a profound inward turning.

     


    It was inevitable that the School of Resentment would do its destructive damage to the reading, staging, and interpretation of Shakespeare, whose eminence is the ultimate demonstration of the autonomy of the aesthetic. Cultural poeticians, ostensible feminists, sub-Marxists, and assorted would-be Parisians have given us French Shakespeare, who never wrote a line but instead sat in a tavern while all the "social energies" of early modern Europe pulsated into his quill and created Hamlet, Falstaff, Iago, and Cleopatra, with little aid from that mere funnel, the Man from Stratford. It has not been explained (at least to me) just why the social energies favored Shakespeare over Thomas Middleton or John Marston or George Chapman or whoever, but this remarkable notion totally dominates today's academic study of Shakespeare. First, Paris told us that language did the thinking and writing for us, but then Foucault emerged, and Shakespeare went from being language's serf to society's minion. No longer can we speak of the best writer--Auden's Top Bard--and if Shakespeare recedes, why call a volume The Best American Poetry? Certainly the 1996 volume should have been retitled The Most Socially Energetic American Poetry, and if I were not Bloom Brontosaurus, an amiable dinosaur, we could have called this book The Most Socially Energetic of the Socially Energetic. The madness that contaminates our once high culture cannot be cured unless and until we surrender our more than Kafkan sense that social guilt is not to be doubted. No thing can be more malignant than a disease of the spirit that sincerely regards itself as virtue.
     

    Each time I make the mistake of glancing at the Yale Weekly Bulletin, I shudder to see that the dean of Yale College has appointed yet another subdean to minister to the supposed cultural interests of another identity club: ethnic, racial, linguistic, with gender and erotic subsets. Shakespeare, performed and read in every country (with the sporadic exception of France, most xenophobic of cultures), is judged by audiences of every race and language to have put them upon the stage. Shakespeare's power has nothing to do with Eurocentrism, maleness, Christianity, or Elizabethan-Jacobean social energies. No one else so combined cognitive strength, originality, dramatic guile, and linguistic florabundance as virtually to reinvent the human, and Shakespeare is therefore the best battlefield upon which to fight the rabblement of Resenters.
     
    http://bostonreview.net/forum/harold-bloom-they-have-numbers-we-heights

    Great stuff. Thanks.

  79. I want to add a potential alternate explanation for the phenomenon which Steve is suspicious of in this article. That is, the suspicion that fear of competition encouraged universities to set high barriers to entry. I don’t buy thtat this was a factor because professors who have tenure are by and large never crowded out by new professors. Why would this fear of competition have arisen in the 80s (when French continental theorists came to dominate English departments) and not earlier?

    Instead, I suspect the factor was a realization of the coming failures of the universities. Our university system was put in place in a time when economic and social growth meant that one professor could have four students and 3 or 4 of them could themselves go on to become professors. Grad students and adjuncts followed a kind of apprenticeship which the system rewarded at the end. But in the 70s normal growth more or less came to an end for all institutions, including the universities, and they were increasingly faced with problems of how to deal with a world in which the university still needed (let’s say for convenience sake) 4 grad students for every professor but on average .2 of those 4 would themselves get jobs in academia.

    The turn against the canon was partially done for ideological reasons but also was done with the idea that being “more inclusive” would attract more students from different areas. (This is, incidentally, the same logic behind woke marketing and related strange phenomena across modern culture.) Foucault, Derrida, Lacan and others became not only means by which the canon could be displaced in authority but also could erect barriers to entry to justify not giving all 4 of those grad students a job in academia. “Sorry, John, your work just isn’t breaking any new ground.”

    As was subsequently discovered, the displacement of the canon was not complete (partly for reasons Sailer indicates in his article), and the partial displacement had the opposite effect of the one intended. Sure, some weirdos from different backgrounds came into English and the other liberal arts but far more people were turned off from them and the result was a net negative (enrollment in these fields has declined over time). Increasingly, intelligent people do not go into these fields at all so they are drawing more and more from a weaker and weaker pool. The demand to promote people of varying backgrounds regardless of ability also ensures that a decline in quality takes place.

    Bloom was one person who stood against this on the grounds of aesthetic and cultural values. Doing so is, relatively speaking, a more “rightish” than “leftish” position and as the academy has become more left-leaning the sympathy for the Bloomian position has largely vanished.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    The French were very influential in post-war thought and culture, at least until the 70s, with Foucault and Derrida being the last big names.

    After WWII, it was Sartre and Camus. Camus fell out of favor as insufficiently radical and then he died. Sartre's existentialism was hugely influential but was overtaken by new fads. The 60s accelerated everything with its cult of youth. Suddenly, inexperience and enthusiasm were the main thing. May 68 failed but cast a long shadow.

    Sartre remained a Marxist all his life, but communism fell by the wayside. 68 saw not only riots in May but Soviet tanks in Czechoslovakia. And sober minds soon realized that Mao's madness was not the way. The Vietnam War still had leftist hopes flying high, but the revelations of the Khmer Rouge in the late 70s and revelations of the true extent of Mao's craziness in the 80s really did in communism.

    Foucault was bound to prove influential because he de-emphasized class and economics and focused more on culture and psychology, stuff more interesting to intellectual types who were also fascinated with art and culture.
    And he finalized the left's appropriation of the modern right spanning from Nietzsche to Heidegger.
    Leftists saw history as 'rational' materialist Left vs 'irrational' nihilist Right(aka fascism). The thing is, however, arts and culture are more about irrationality and imagination. Also, creativity is essentially nihilistic. Even though art can be moral, artistic talent is beyond morality, a kind of daemonic force. The modern right, at least philosophically, got closer to the Faustian temptation(and tragically made it politically with Hitler). It was more about Power and the fun of being the Bad Boy.

    The modern left was deeply confused because it was, on the one hand, puritanically moralist and all about justice based on materialist reading of history. And yet, the left was also into avant-garde art and dabbled in degeneracy. It was playing with both Lenin and Freud. Despite decadent tendencies, intellectuals like Sartre remained moralist and committed to the end.
    Foucault, on the other hand, forged a kind of charismatic and irrational nihilism of the Left, not least by attacking the foundations of the Enlightenment and its obsession with order based on Reason. In that sense, he was a genuine Rock Star intellectual in the way Sartre or Hobsbawm could never be. His leftism was closer to Mapplethorpe. As Marxism and class ideology became less fashionable among the new left that grew up with rock music and hedonism, Foucault was appealing because he gave intellectual cover to their new anti-values of self-indulgence.

    POWER is more fun than JUSTICE. Justice is do-goody and can be drab. Power is about thrill and charisma. The Left was for the common man and justice, but this got boring real fast. Rock Music, for one, is about rock star as god. And blacks got tired of holding hands and singing 'we shall overcome' and went the way of James Brown and funk and rap. Leftists used to argue that fascism is the ultimate manifestation of capitalism with its cult of narcissism, greed, egotism, and hubris. Pasolini made this point in the 70s, saying capitalist Italy was turning everyone into a little hitler.
    And yet, the 60s generation really loved pop culture and the culture of charisma. There was a bit of Alex(Clockwork Orange) in all of them. They clung to the theme of Justice because it made them feel self-righteous, BUT they wanted to be bad boys and girls. They wanted to play bad in the name of good. Just look at today's Antifa. They act like droogs in the name of 'justice'. Look at blacks with rap. They act like thugs for justice. And feminists praised the nihilistic LAST SEDUCTION because it's about 'female empowerment'. Never mind the female character is a total monster. Power is what counts. And the pop version of Foucault is Tarantino who wallows in total thrill of degeneracy and dementia in garbage like DJANGO but pretends to have justice on his mind.
  80. @Ministry of Tongues

    he loved the bottle too much as those of Irish descent are often wont to do
     
    Since you mention Hart Crane...

    Bloom loved Crane's poetry since boyhood and kept returning to him. I could never find anything in Crane, who seems like an Eliot wannabe out of his depth. But I'm not Bloom, so...

    In addition to the bottle, Crane loved the rough trade and this combination led to his suicide.

    I can’t help myself – I know that I should be enlightened in such matters but I find gay love poetry icky and even when he has changed “he” to “she” I know that he really means “he” and it is repulsive to me on a visceral level.

  81. @MC
    The dig at "Mormon theme parks," is a rather idiosyncratic one, albeit amusing. I'm a Latter-day Saint and I'm only aware of one such park: https://www.polynesia.com/

    Maybe he had taken a Hawaiian vacation just before writing that?

    Bloom seemed to have some fascination with Mormonism and viewed Joseph Smith as a “religious genius.”

    He has a book called The American Religion which I have not read but based on summaries he argues that most American religions are essentially “gnostic” and distinct from traditional European Christianity. I don’t think I buy it, but if nothing else it does seem like an original idea.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    I agree with Bloom. Although Smith was no great shakes as a theologian (The Book of Mormon reads like it was written by a half-educated man trying to write in King James Bible style, because it was), he was a genius as a huckster and could charm the pants off of almost any woman. A real American success story, at least up to the point where he was lynched.
  82. @Mr McKenna

    I am fairly certain – I could be wrong, but trust me, I know what I am talking about – I am fairly certain
     
    I truly enjoy these disjointed pseudo-philosophical emanations we regularly get here from 'anonymous' contributors. They're almost always self-absorbed, insistently demanding of respect, and rife with self-contradiction. Truly a pleasure, if you're perverse about these things, as I am.

    Yes, nothing inspires trust in another person’s judgement quite like the persistent reiteration of “trust me, I know what I’m talking about.”

    • Replies: @anonymous
    You are welcome!

    In my favorite book, we are told "Judge not, lest you be judged" so maybe that will help you understand why I was not trying to impress but merely trying to help you, a human being, understand a fellow human being!

    Sorry if my comment that God loves us all was not clear enough as to my philosophical background.
    I overestimated the philosophical acuity of the audience here, I guess.
    , @anonymous
    Or, trust me because the recently deceased is someone I have prayed for over the years, and God gives me insight into people I pray for.

    You happy?

  83. @Jack D
    Recently some states have updated their statutes of limitations so that touching a woman's thigh is like murder - the statute never expires. But back in those days the statute of limitations would have only been a few years ( I dunno exactly what it was in Connecticut in 1983 but I'd be shocked if it was more than 10) and it (probably) can't be retroactively revived once it has expired due to the prohibition on ex post facto laws. So if you go into the police station to report a sexual assault that happened in 1983 they are going to send you home.

    TBH, even if she had gone to the police the same day they wouldn't have done anything under the circumstances. Yes, if you are sitting on a bus and grope the stranger sitting next to you, it's a crime but in this context, it was always (pre Me Too) understood to be a "unwanted advance", not a crime. If men are not allowed to make advances in order to find out if they are wanted or not (and women rarely do) then humans would become extinct.

    If men are not allowed to make advances in order to find out if they are wanted or not (and women rarely do) then humans would become extinct.

    So there’s a silver lining to all this madness after all. Good to know.

  84. @Thatgirl
    Bloom was right, of course, about the abysmal writing in Harry Potter. Bloom probably didn’t point out one more of the many failings of that series which is the fictional sport of “quidditch,” a game invented by someone who has clearly never played, or even watched, any sports in her life.

    In quidditch, each “goal” scores one point, but if one team captures the other team’s magic ball, it is worth something like 100 points, essentially making all the other goals worthless.

    As one who has suffered through watching every movie in the series with my kid, and tried to read the books, this game drives me batty, especially since the fans of the series seem to think Rowling’s creation of this game is such a stroke of brilliance.

    As was pointed out on another recent thread, (even putting aside all the magic broomsticks, etc.) inventing the rules of a new game that is appealing to both players and spectators is not as easy as it looks and is not often done successfully for this reason. Most games evolve rather than being invented in one go. Although Naismith invented basketball pretty much in one go, it didn’t contain all of the elements of the modern game – e.g. he didn’t include dribbling in his rules.

    • Replies: @black sea
    It took about a decade after the invention of the game to realize that if you cut a hole at the bottom of the basket, the ball would drop through, rather than having to be manually retrieved after each successful shot.
  85. I was about to say, “Didn’t he die of AIDS already?”; but I Googled just to make sure, and it turns out I was thinking of Allan Bloom.

    I wonder if both of them being named “Bloom” has caused much confusion over the years. It could have skewed how people interpreted their output.

  86. @Jack D
    As was pointed out on another recent thread, (even putting aside all the magic broomsticks, etc.) inventing the rules of a new game that is appealing to both players and spectators is not as easy as it looks and is not often done successfully for this reason. Most games evolve rather than being invented in one go. Although Naismith invented basketball pretty much in one go, it didn't contain all of the elements of the modern game - e.g. he didn't include dribbling in his rules.

    It took about a decade after the invention of the game to realize that if you cut a hole at the bottom of the basket, the ball would drop through, rather than having to be manually retrieved after each successful shot.

  87. @Autochthon
    These are goofy distinctions without differences. Popularity, commercial success, and affectations about what is or is not patrician or plebian vary wildly. Shakespeare was every bit the Stephen King of his day (in commercial appeal, I mean; he was of course infinitely more talented): crowds of penny-stinkers packed the Globe to hear his plays. Likewise Dickens, whose works, serially published, were devoured enthusiastically by stevedores eating lunch when they picked up the latest installments in the day's paper; Dickens himself was acclaimed for hia public readings on globetrotting tours. Hell, Homeric epics were recited to large crowds, and the masterpieces of Aeschylus and Sophocles were performed at wild festivals one would not be too out of line comparing to Sundance, South by Southwest, or Bestival.

    On the other hand, Kafka died an unappreciated insurance agent! Likewise Emily Dickenson. Keats (!) sold only about two hundred copies of his poetry during his lifetime.

    I'm no expert on his works, but my understanding is Bloom (correctly) emphasised quality aa the measure of literature (to broadly include prose, drama, or poetry) – not commercial appeal or the lack thereof.

    The true test is the test of time.

    Ultimately, merit DOES equal commercial appeal, although often not in the author’s lifetime. How many millions of copies of Kafka works have been printed by now in every language?

    OTOH, short term commercial appeal does not always equal merit – there is lots of schlocky literary Wonder Bread full of empty calories that is sold by the ton and goes stale as quickly as bread.

  88. @Autochthon
    These are goofy distinctions without differences. Popularity, commercial success, and affectations about what is or is not patrician or plebian vary wildly. Shakespeare was every bit the Stephen King of his day (in commercial appeal, I mean; he was of course infinitely more talented): crowds of penny-stinkers packed the Globe to hear his plays. Likewise Dickens, whose works, serially published, were devoured enthusiastically by stevedores eating lunch when they picked up the latest installments in the day's paper; Dickens himself was acclaimed for hia public readings on globetrotting tours. Hell, Homeric epics were recited to large crowds, and the masterpieces of Aeschylus and Sophocles were performed at wild festivals one would not be too out of line comparing to Sundance, South by Southwest, or Bestival.

    On the other hand, Kafka died an unappreciated insurance agent! Likewise Emily Dickenson. Keats (!) sold only about two hundred copies of his poetry during his lifetime.

    I'm no expert on his works, but my understanding is Bloom (correctly) emphasised quality aa the measure of literature (to broadly include prose, drama, or poetry) – not commercial appeal or the lack thereof.

    I think your assessment is a bit off. Bloom sometimes gets associated with the paradigm that intrinsic aesthetics is the criterion of a literary work. This is not wholly incongruent. But Bloom’s criticism typically avoids deep diving into the specific lyricism or symbolism of poems, or exploring the technical explorations of their figurative devices. Its shtick is to construe the genealogical lineages of literature, the weight of inherited tradition on the psychology of literary figures, and how specific literary figures carry the torch forward within these traditions. Consult for instance, Bloom’s obsession with Kabbalah or his most anthologized work, The Anxiety of Influence.

    The point I hasten to underscore is that not believing that literature should be evaluated on the basis of commercial qualities, SJW related qualities, or whatever other absurd criterion is not tantamount to believing that literature should be evaluated on its intrinsic merits.

    • Replies: @jpp
    Oops, I just meant to write *technical inner workings *.
  89. @gregor
    Bloom seemed to have some fascination with Mormonism and viewed Joseph Smith as a “religious genius.”

    He has a book called The American Religion which I have not read but based on summaries he argues that most American religions are essentially “gnostic” and distinct from traditional European Christianity. I don’t think I buy it, but if nothing else it does seem like an original idea.

    I agree with Bloom. Although Smith was no great shakes as a theologian (The Book of Mormon reads like it was written by a half-educated man trying to write in King James Bible style, because it was), he was a genius as a huckster and could charm the pants off of almost any woman. A real American success story, at least up to the point where he was lynched.

    • Replies: @black sea
    A prophet is without honor in his own country.
  90. @Jack D
    I agree with Bloom. Although Smith was no great shakes as a theologian (The Book of Mormon reads like it was written by a half-educated man trying to write in King James Bible style, because it was), he was a genius as a huckster and could charm the pants off of almost any woman. A real American success story, at least up to the point where he was lynched.

    A prophet is without honor in his own country.

  91. @jpp
    I think your assessment is a bit off. Bloom sometimes gets associated with the paradigm that intrinsic aesthetics is the criterion of a literary work. This is not wholly incongruent. But Bloom's criticism typically avoids deep diving into the specific lyricism or symbolism of poems, or exploring the technical explorations of their figurative devices. Its shtick is to construe the genealogical lineages of literature, the weight of inherited tradition on the psychology of literary figures, and how specific literary figures carry the torch forward within these traditions. Consult for instance, Bloom's obsession with Kabbalah or his most anthologized work, The Anxiety of Influence.

    The point I hasten to underscore is that not believing that literature should be evaluated on the basis of commercial qualities, SJW related qualities, or whatever other absurd criterion is not tantamount to believing that literature should be evaluated on its intrinsic merits.

    Oops, I just meant to write *technical inner workings *.

  92. Anonymous[254] • Disclaimer says: • Website

    In some ways, the fall of literary departments is all for the good.

    People should read on their own and appreciate literature. And they can have discussions on the internet.

    Now, anyone can access just about any book from anywhere in the world.

    Who needs colleges?

    And all the great authors of the past. Were most of them products of literary departments?

    Most giants of film didn’t go to film school which only began sprouting up in the 60s.

    And rock greats didn’t need a Rock School to learn about the music.

    In a way, the institutionalization of literature was the worst thing to happen to literature.

    Let libraries keep the books, and let the readers discuss and argue.

    Also, considering there must be countless dissertations and books on Shakespeare and other greats, do we need any more? Can anything original be said about them anymore?

    If so, leave it up to future readers who can post stuff on the net. Hell with the scholars who became scolders.

  93. @anonymous
    wwebd said ----- Bill - Bloom was not really a freak of nature - of course he was, in a limited way, but that was not what was most interesting about him - he was one of those people who realize, before they even get to college, that their intellectual gifts are limited, and who determine that they are going to make the best of it. I think he did not actually claim to memorize the things he was claimed to memorize, he merely was saying (a) I could recite for a few hours all the lines I remember from my beloved Shakespeare (I am sure he could) and (b) there are other writers I could almost do the same for, not hour after hour of recitation, but if you told me one line of theirs I could probably guess, and would almost always be right, at the next line. Jimi Hendrix once admitted that he thought he was not all that great a musician but if he had ever heard a good lick on electric guitar, he remembered it and there were thousands of ways he could play variations on what he had memorized. Same thing, Bloom and Hendrix were basically the same guy, belated artists who were almost never original but who knew how to riff on that which was good and which was ancient, and on that which was good and not so ancient.

    Poor little Janni von Neumann had a similar skill when it came to numbers and algorithms, sure he and Harold both had no problem finding jobs in academia, but both were more or less , as you said, people whose main skill was a photographic memory. In the case of von Neumann, the sad side was that, as he approached death, he realized, with the cold shudder any of us would experience, in similar circumstances, that he was little more than a slightly less autistic Sheldon Cooper - How I wish he had been my friend, I would have explained to him that God loves us all, and none of us were ever expected to be better than we could have been ..... (and yes, here on a comments section in 2019 you read correctly that someone said he was sad that he was not able to give poor Janni von Neumann advice ...... I meant what I said).

    Bloom, in his later old man books (and I have a more photographic memory than he had, and I know what I am saying) was less critical than he had been in his middle aged books of those of us who KNOW GOD LOVES US

    you can track it if you want, the older he got the more accepting he was ---- and I have read and reviewed a few of his books, and I know what he is talking about ---- the more accepting he was of the fact that it does not matter if we are poets, it does not matter if we are eloquent ....

    and while he kept saying, again and again , the only eternity for humans is the eternity of having said lasting words of genius.... (and he knew he was not telling the truth when he said that, trust me, I know how these guys operate)


    I am fairly certain - I could be wrong, but trust me, I know what I am talking about - I am fairly certain, having read the parts of his books in which he discussed eternity, and having noticed that he grew less and less clueless over the years -----that as the years went by he left clues that he was ashamed of his youthful gnosticism, and that he wanted to know the real truth - which begins with this, God loves us all - I am fairly certain that, as the years went by, that he eventually understood that genius is nothing, poetry is nothing, literary fame is nothing ....

    but there is an eternal life waiting for anyone who seeks God and who is willing to follow His commandments. Nobody cares which of us were poets, which of us had photographic memories. Because God loves us all.

    Your comment reminds me that Harold Bloom was an admirer of David Lindsay’s “A Voyage to Arcturus”, a gnostic allegory with traces of Schopenhauer and many other thinkers. Bloom even wrote a sequel or homage to “Arcturus”, called “The Flight to Lucifer”, which adhered much more closely to gnostic mythology (Lindsay invented his own mythology), but which didn’t have the allegorical clarity of Lindsay.

  94. “Shakespeare is God,” he declared

    Well, he sure as hell wasn’t Bacon, Marlowe or de Vere.

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
    True dat.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespeare_authorship_question#Evidence_for_Shakespeare's_authorship_from_his_works

    Beginning in 1987, Ward Elliott, who was sympathetic to the Oxfordian theory, and Robert J. Valenza supervised a continuing stylometric study that used computer programs to compare Shakespeare's stylistic habits to the works of 37 authors who had been proposed as the true author. The study, known as the Claremont Shakespeare Clinic, was last held in the spring of 2010.[128] The tests determined that Shakespeare's work shows consistent, countable, profile-fitting patterns, suggesting that he was a single individual, not a committee, and that he used fewer relative clauses and more hyphens, feminine endings, and run-on lines than most of the writers with whom he was compared. The result determined that none of the other tested claimants' work could have been written by Shakespeare, nor could Shakespeare have been written by them, eliminating all of the claimants whose known works have survived—including Oxford, Bacon, and Marlowe—as the true authors of the Shakespeare canon.
  95. @JohnnyD
    I wonder if people confuse Harold Bloom for Alan Bloom, who famously wrote "Closing of the American Mind." Besides having the same last name, both were friendly with the Neoconservatives and Saul Bellow. Also, they were both concerned about the rise of identity politics on college campuses.

    I wonder if people confuse Harold Bloom for Allan Bloom

    I never could keep those two straight. Their ideas dovetailed.

    Allan died in 1992, so Harold had a good 27 years to establish a separate identity.

  96. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:
    @jpp
    As one representative example, I might refer you to the article "POETIC CROSSING, II: AMERICAN STANCES", which strikes me as a decent instantiation of the self indulgence and inattentiveness to language towards which I aver Bloom's criticism inclines. I might also refer you to the 1976 NY Times Article (which, I assure you, bears NO resemblance to any recent NY Times columns) "Poetry and Repression" by Christopher Ricks (which you should be able to freely google search), which performs with an apposite sense of humor certain necessary deeds of deflation.


    As somewhat of a side matter, I also profess my surprise that in a somewhat antisemite leaning forum like UNZ Review, nobody here takes issue with Bloom's attempt to put TS Eliot / Ezra Pound in their places by demoting their stature within the cannon.

    As somewhat of a side matter, I also profess my surprise that in a somewhat antisemite leaning forum like UNZ Review, nobody here takes issue with Bloom’s attempt to put TS Eliot / Ezra Pound in their places by demoting their stature within the cannon.

    Bloom was, presumably, Jewish, but since we aren’t irrational “antisemites” [sic], we don’t let that interfere too much with admiring a bright guy, just as most of us would agree Feynman and Von Neumann were really, really smart.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    Feynman and von Neumann did science and math so they are tough to disagree with, but Bloom's work dealt with culture. As we all know, Jews are Cultural Marxists so being very bright only makes them more destructive.

    You admire Bloom not just because he was very bright but also because you agree with his positions. As usual, I agree with Bloom about Eliot and Pound. Eliot was a lightweight (I hate cats) and Pound was nuts, or even worse he really wasn't nuts and meant what he said when he became the Tokyo Rose of Fascist Italy.
  97. @Jack D
    Lovecraft doesn't make Bloom's list. I don't know for sure but I think he would have considered him too commercial. Bloom isn't wild about writers of popular fiction such as King and Rowling - he prefers more highbrow stuff.

    https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/l/literature/bloom/complete.html#C

    Lovecraft doesn’t make Bloom’s list. I don’t know for sure but I think he would have considered him too commercial.

    “Commercial” is about the last term that I would use for HPL’s work.

    Bloom isn’t wild about writers of popular fiction such as King and Rowling – he prefers more highbrow stuff.

    Bloom thinks quite highly of Dickens, Twain, and Kipling. Those fellows were huge sellers during their lifetimes and were read by people from all walks of life.

  98. @SFG
    Eh, he was a literature professor. It wasn't nuts for him. I agree it would be waste of time for most people, but maybe he got some insight out of knowing the poems better, and if you're into that they're certainly a beautiful thing to know.

    Died a few days after teaching his last class, eh? 'Died with his boots on so to speak'...

    Eh, he was a literature professor.

    So am I. And I can’t imagine memorizing Spenser, let alone Blake. If Bloom did it, my hat’s off to him. There’s a fellow who could have given Funes a run for his money.

  99. @Clifford Brown
    Bloom was dismissive of Poe and King, so I had to wonder what his position was on my favorite American horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft. Bloom seems to at least respect Lovecraft. I like to think Bloom appreciated Lovecraft's sense of humor which is lacking in Poe and King.

    Bloom was dismissive of Poe and King, so I had to wonder what his position was on my favorite American horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft. Bloom seems to at least respect Lovecraft. I like to think Bloom appreciated Lovecraft’s sense of humor which is lacking in Poe and King.

    Bloom seems to have had a grudging interest in HPL’s work:

    Lovecraft, whom I find very hard to get through, nevertheless receives a cogent defense in a great book of exegesis, Victoria Nelson’s The Secret Life of Puppets (2001). For Nelson, Lovecraft takes us back to the major ancient and Renaissance heresies: Neoplatonism, Hermeticism, Gnosticism.

    Part of Lovecraft’s peculiar power may be this deep link to ancient heresies,

  100. anonymous[546] • Disclaimer says:
    @black sea
    Yes, nothing inspires trust in another person's judgement quite like the persistent reiteration of "trust me, I know what I'm talking about."

    You are welcome!

    In my favorite book, we are told “Judge not, lest you be judged” so maybe that will help you understand why I was not trying to impress but merely trying to help you, a human being, understand a fellow human being!

    Sorry if my comment that God loves us all was not clear enough as to my philosophical background.
    I overestimated the philosophical acuity of the audience here, I guess.

  101. Anonymous[386] • Disclaimer says:
    @PN
    I want to add a potential alternate explanation for the phenomenon which Steve is suspicious of in this article. That is, the suspicion that fear of competition encouraged universities to set high barriers to entry. I don't buy thtat this was a factor because professors who have tenure are by and large never crowded out by new professors. Why would this fear of competition have arisen in the 80s (when French continental theorists came to dominate English departments) and not earlier?

    Instead, I suspect the factor was a realization of the coming failures of the universities. Our university system was put in place in a time when economic and social growth meant that one professor could have four students and 3 or 4 of them could themselves go on to become professors. Grad students and adjuncts followed a kind of apprenticeship which the system rewarded at the end. But in the 70s normal growth more or less came to an end for all institutions, including the universities, and they were increasingly faced with problems of how to deal with a world in which the university still needed (let's say for convenience sake) 4 grad students for every professor but on average .2 of those 4 would themselves get jobs in academia.

    The turn against the canon was partially done for ideological reasons but also was done with the idea that being "more inclusive" would attract more students from different areas. (This is, incidentally, the same logic behind woke marketing and related strange phenomena across modern culture.) Foucault, Derrida, Lacan and others became not only means by which the canon could be displaced in authority but also could erect barriers to entry to justify not giving all 4 of those grad students a job in academia. "Sorry, John, your work just isn't breaking any new ground."

    As was subsequently discovered, the displacement of the canon was not complete (partly for reasons Sailer indicates in his article), and the partial displacement had the opposite effect of the one intended. Sure, some weirdos from different backgrounds came into English and the other liberal arts but far more people were turned off from them and the result was a net negative (enrollment in these fields has declined over time). Increasingly, intelligent people do not go into these fields at all so they are drawing more and more from a weaker and weaker pool. The demand to promote people of varying backgrounds regardless of ability also ensures that a decline in quality takes place.

    Bloom was one person who stood against this on the grounds of aesthetic and cultural values. Doing so is, relatively speaking, a more "rightish" than "leftish" position and as the academy has become more left-leaning the sympathy for the Bloomian position has largely vanished.

    The French were very influential in post-war thought and culture, at least until the 70s, with Foucault and Derrida being the last big names.

    After WWII, it was Sartre and Camus. Camus fell out of favor as insufficiently radical and then he died. Sartre’s existentialism was hugely influential but was overtaken by new fads. The 60s accelerated everything with its cult of youth. Suddenly, inexperience and enthusiasm were the main thing. May 68 failed but cast a long shadow.

    Sartre remained a Marxist all his life, but communism fell by the wayside. 68 saw not only riots in May but Soviet tanks in Czechoslovakia. And sober minds soon realized that Mao’s madness was not the way. The Vietnam War still had leftist hopes flying high, but the revelations of the Khmer Rouge in the late 70s and revelations of the true extent of Mao’s craziness in the 80s really did in communism.

    Foucault was bound to prove influential because he de-emphasized class and economics and focused more on culture and psychology, stuff more interesting to intellectual types who were also fascinated with art and culture.
    And he finalized the left’s appropriation of the modern right spanning from Nietzsche to Heidegger.
    Leftists saw history as ‘rational’ materialist Left vs ‘irrational’ nihilist Right(aka fascism). The thing is, however, arts and culture are more about irrationality and imagination. Also, creativity is essentially nihilistic. Even though art can be moral, artistic talent is beyond morality, a kind of daemonic force. The modern right, at least philosophically, got closer to the Faustian temptation(and tragically made it politically with Hitler). It was more about Power and the fun of being the Bad Boy.

    The modern left was deeply confused because it was, on the one hand, puritanically moralist and all about justice based on materialist reading of history. And yet, the left was also into avant-garde art and dabbled in degeneracy. It was playing with both Lenin and Freud. Despite decadent tendencies, intellectuals like Sartre remained moralist and committed to the end.
    Foucault, on the other hand, forged a kind of charismatic and irrational nihilism of the Left, not least by attacking the foundations of the Enlightenment and its obsession with order based on Reason. In that sense, he was a genuine Rock Star intellectual in the way Sartre or Hobsbawm could never be. His leftism was closer to Mapplethorpe. As Marxism and class ideology became less fashionable among the new left that grew up with rock music and hedonism, Foucault was appealing because he gave intellectual cover to their new anti-values of self-indulgence.

    POWER is more fun than JUSTICE. Justice is do-goody and can be drab. Power is about thrill and charisma. The Left was for the common man and justice, but this got boring real fast. Rock Music, for one, is about rock star as god. And blacks got tired of holding hands and singing ‘we shall overcome’ and went the way of James Brown and funk and rap. Leftists used to argue that fascism is the ultimate manifestation of capitalism with its cult of narcissism, greed, egotism, and hubris. Pasolini made this point in the 70s, saying capitalist Italy was turning everyone into a little hitler.
    And yet, the 60s generation really loved pop culture and the culture of charisma. There was a bit of Alex(Clockwork Orange) in all of them. They clung to the theme of Justice because it made them feel self-righteous, BUT they wanted to be bad boys and girls. They wanted to play bad in the name of good. Just look at today’s Antifa. They act like droogs in the name of ‘justice’. Look at blacks with rap. They act like thugs for justice. And feminists praised the nihilistic LAST SEDUCTION because it’s about ‘female empowerment’. Never mind the female character is a total monster. Power is what counts. And the pop version of Foucault is Tarantino who wallows in total thrill of degeneracy and dementia in garbage like DJANGO but pretends to have justice on his mind.

  102. @black sea
    Yes, nothing inspires trust in another person's judgement quite like the persistent reiteration of "trust me, I know what I'm talking about."

    Or, trust me because the recently deceased is someone I have prayed for over the years, and God gives me insight into people I pray for.

    You happy?

  103. @Dumbo
    This shows that even Jewish intellectuals have gone down in quality.

    Back in the 90s there were guys like Harold Bloom and Allan Bloom who were very smart and wrote interesting things, even if you would not always agree with them.

    Now there's... who? Ezra Klein?

    I can't think of one recent literary critic (or come to think of, even movie critic) who is memorable or interesting nowadays. But to be fair, I don't really follow the New York Times, so I wouldn't know anyway.

    Now there’s… who? Ezra Klein?

    The English Department is a post-apocalyptic wasteland with half-rotted zombies dully staring at computer screens where once were actual people. Not necessarily great people but at least people.

    • Replies: @Autochthon
    It used to be a respectable racket to get into...

    https://youtu.be/qv0p1Y8pRCs
  104. @Thatgirl
    Bloom was right, of course, about the abysmal writing in Harry Potter. Bloom probably didn’t point out one more of the many failings of that series which is the fictional sport of “quidditch,” a game invented by someone who has clearly never played, or even watched, any sports in her life.

    In quidditch, each “goal” scores one point, but if one team captures the other team’s magic ball, it is worth something like 100 points, essentially making all the other goals worthless.

    As one who has suffered through watching every movie in the series with my kid, and tried to read the books, this game drives me batty, especially since the fans of the series seem to think Rowling’s creation of this game is such a stroke of brilliance.

    “quidditch,” a game invented by someone who has clearly never played, or even watched, any sports in her life.

    In quidditch, each “goal” scores one point, but if one team captures the other team’s magic ball, it is worth something like 100 points, essentially making all the other goals worthless.

    It does, I believe, give some insight into how women experience sports.

  105. @Thatgirl
    Bloom wrote a very interesting book called The American Religion which was his own very idiosyncratic interpretation of the American religious experience and its different manifestations. If I remember correctly, he believed that American religions - whether Jewish, Christian, etc. - all shared an essential element of gnosisticm that would make them unrecognizable to Europeans.

    I remember that he seemed to have an abiding fondness for Mormons, seeming to see them as similar to Jews in their creation of their own culture and origin story. He felt that Mormons, like Jews, would always be Mormons even if they left the faith.

    I left a very similar reply without noticing your post. Mormons and Jews are interesting to compare and contrast. One thing though (contra Bloom) is that at present Mormonism is still fundamentally credal and there’s no “reform” version like Judaism. And it’s difficult to see such a thing arising any time soon given that it’s very centralized and Salt Lake runs a pretty tight ship (excommunication, etc). Whether intentional or not, Mormonism is set up to pretty much force out people who aren’t serious. And (again contra Bloom) my impression is that lapsed members often don’t retain much secular Mormon identity, certainly nothing like the phenomenon of the secular Jew.

    Somewhat related: I wonder if there might be a market for a “fake” religion for conservatives. That is to say something that’s theologically lenient and consistent with modern science but simultaneously traditional and non-degenerate. Like Episcopalian but not completely gay.

    • Replies: @donvonburg
    Mormonism has had several schisms, starting with the Reorganized LDS (now the Community of Christ), the Fundamentalist LDS, the Temple Lot, and a half dozen or more that have died out by now. The LDS mothership is on more or less speaking terms with the Community of Christ, who owns the original Kirtland temple, and to varying degrees or not at all with the others.

    Being an active member of the LDS church is demanding. You have to tithe and prove your tithe really is ten percent of your income to the bishop in an interview. You have to show compliance with the Word of Wisdom, and generally look, act, and smell like a Mormon ought to. You will be pressured to get more involved in this or that activity until most of the time you are not sleeping or at work you are doing something for the church.

    Most Mormons are not very spiritual and not very Bible literate by the standards of conventional Christianity. I personally believe that few Mormon authorities from bishop up really believe in much of Mormon theology. They are in it because they think Mormons have built an alternate and better society with good works-and in some ways, they have. Mormons have solid stable families that do well, and they have a non-government, non-coercive social safety net. No Mormon starves, no Mormon lacks medical care, no Mormon willing and able to work and of decent IQ and character stays underemployed. I admire that.

    They also are big into preparedness, with a food pantry, and many are into serious prepping. Mormons tend to be hunters and know firearms well-John Moses Browning was a Mormon, enough said.

    But the essence of Christianity is that salvation is not through works, it is by acceptance and faith of the finished work of Christ on the Cross and His resurrection. Mormons do not have that. They have doctrines that are unbiblical and bizarre, much of which are simply borrowed from Freemasonry, as are the original temple ceremonies and layout of the Temple. And the Book of Mormon is a simple work of dishonest fiction, concocted by Joseph Smith.

    Mormonism would have died with Smith, but for Brigham Young, who was ruthless, domineering, charismatic and intended to build a nation with himself as unchallengeable, absolute ruler. He didn't quite succeed at that, but he did leave a powerful, efficient, appealing organization.

    I find Mormonism fascinating on many levels, but its theology is, to put it bluntly, rotten.
    , @Jack D
    There are no Reform Mormons but there are groups of Mormons who are to the right of the established church because they have stuck with polygamy, etc.
    , @Helo
    " I wonder if there might be a market for a “fake” religion for conservatives. That is to say something that’s theologically lenient and consistent with modern science but simultaneously traditional and non-degenerate."

    Methodist sounds pretty close.
    , @Old Palo Altan
    It has been in formation since 1965 and is called the Church of Vatican II.
    , @Morton's toes
    What To Do When Racists Try To Hijack Your Religion

    The Atlantic Nov 2017

    https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/11/asatru-heathenry-racism/543864/
  106. @Cortes
    Standing on the shoulders of giants is so yesterday.

    Let’s gnaw just above the ankles.

    I’ve wondered a few times if the name of the most interesting character in Wambaugh’s “Choirboys” - Harold Bloomguard - is accidental...

    LOL

  107. @advancedatheist
    Ironically Karl Marx grew up classically educated, and reportedly as an adult he maintained enough fluency to read Aeschylus’ tragedies in the original Greek for pleasure. Not to mention that he could also recite Dante, Shakespeare and Goethe from memory. Many of the early communists similarly put the effort into cultivating their minds with Western literature, music and art. Even Che Guevara, from a later generation, grew up in an educated family with a large library in the household, and reportedly he read voraciously and kept notebooks about the ideas he found in his reading.

    By contrast, the heirs of the leftist tradition who try to engineer our culture these days just don’t come across as cultivated and thoughtful people who could discuss ideas competently. For example, Ta-Nehisi Coates, a current celebrity “intellectual,” admitted in an interview a few years ago that he had never heard of St. Augustine.

    I doubt that many American rockers still alive are as cultivated
    as Jim Morrison (of The Doors) was in the 1960s. He owned hundreds
    of paperbacks, including many classics, and he’d play a game with
    his friends in which they’d read several sentences from a random
    book, and ask him to identify it. He aced it every time. But then he
    was an admiral’s son and a man with a film degree from UCLA.

  108. @Clifford Brown
    Bloom was dismissive of Poe and King, so I had to wonder what his position was on my favorite American horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft. Bloom seems to at least respect Lovecraft. I like to think Bloom appreciated Lovecraft's sense of humor which is lacking in Poe and King.

    The Woke are after Lovecraft now. They RIP him off, but they complain about him.

  109. @John Gruskos
    Heard of "damning with faint praise"?

    Bloom, a subversive with an original mind if there ever was one, cleverly damned with over-the-top-exaggerated praise.

    It was a case of bardolatry gone stark raving mad.

    Shakespeare invented humanity?!?!

    Laughably wild claims like this get in the way of our ability to appreciate the real Shakespeare - a solid poet and a high quality entertainer; not a God.

    Bizarrely, Bloom interprets every single piece of literature ever written as a clever attack on Puritanism - including the New Testament, Milton, and presumably also Calvin's Institutes.

    Bizarre, but not inexplicable. Kevin MacDonald could surely venture a hypothesis on Bloom's motivations for subverting the traditional religion of the host people.

    Eh, this Bloom guy sounds okay in my book. I can’t object to his defense of classic literature or his assaults on left wing literary criticism. We can only hope for more “subversives” in this mold. It’s true that if it weren’t for his coethnics there would be little need for such a defense of dead white males and he is at best canceling out a minuscule portion of the damage caused by other Jewish academics, but I’m not going to hold that against him personally. At the same time, I can’t give him too much credit for calling out that stuff that’s so transparently stupid. And I find it galling that only Jews seem to be permitted to act in this sort of role, at least in elite venues. Could a goy write like Bloom without being drummed out of academia for white supremacy? Do any of them dare try? (Similarly for some reason Pinker seems to be the only elite professor who can flirt with biological realism.)

    One thing I would be interested to know is if there is any subtle (or not so subtle) Jewish boosterism in Bloom’s work. Shakespeare, Chaucer, and … Kafka? Likewise, in one of syon’s quotes here the thread Bloom praises Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, and Arthur Miller. Odd that he picks only Jews for his examples of good modern writers in that sentence.

    • Replies: @blackbodies
    The elements of Jewish boosterism in Bloom's work, eg, who he prefers, who he disdains, his confessed indebtedness to Jewish scriptural modalities of textual exegesis, etc. are omnipresent and by no means subtle.
    , @John Gruskos
    The most blatant Jewish axe Bloom had to grind was his vendetta against T.S. Eliot, whom he desperately hoped to purge from the canon for the sin a antisemitism.

    (Eliot with a baedeker, Bloom with a cigar.)

    According to Bloom, Black grievance, female grievance, homosexual grievance etc. should play no role in determining the Western Canon.

    But Jewish grievance? That's another story altogether!

    He was basically the neocon of the culture wars - the approved, controlled opposition.
  110. @gregor
    I left a very similar reply without noticing your post. Mormons and Jews are interesting to compare and contrast. One thing though (contra Bloom) is that at present Mormonism is still fundamentally credal and there’s no “reform” version like Judaism. And it’s difficult to see such a thing arising any time soon given that it’s very centralized and Salt Lake runs a pretty tight ship (excommunication, etc). Whether intentional or not, Mormonism is set up to pretty much force out people who aren’t serious. And (again contra Bloom) my impression is that lapsed members often don’t retain much secular Mormon identity, certainly nothing like the phenomenon of the secular Jew.

    Somewhat related: I wonder if there might be a market for a “fake” religion for conservatives. That is to say something that’s theologically lenient and consistent with modern science but simultaneously traditional and non-degenerate. Like Episcopalian but not completely gay.

    Mormonism has had several schisms, starting with the Reorganized LDS (now the Community of Christ), the Fundamentalist LDS, the Temple Lot, and a half dozen or more that have died out by now. The LDS mothership is on more or less speaking terms with the Community of Christ, who owns the original Kirtland temple, and to varying degrees or not at all with the others.

    Being an active member of the LDS church is demanding. You have to tithe and prove your tithe really is ten percent of your income to the bishop in an interview. You have to show compliance with the Word of Wisdom, and generally look, act, and smell like a Mormon ought to. You will be pressured to get more involved in this or that activity until most of the time you are not sleeping or at work you are doing something for the church.

    Most Mormons are not very spiritual and not very Bible literate by the standards of conventional Christianity. I personally believe that few Mormon authorities from bishop up really believe in much of Mormon theology. They are in it because they think Mormons have built an alternate and better society with good works-and in some ways, they have. Mormons have solid stable families that do well, and they have a non-government, non-coercive social safety net. No Mormon starves, no Mormon lacks medical care, no Mormon willing and able to work and of decent IQ and character stays underemployed. I admire that.

    They also are big into preparedness, with a food pantry, and many are into serious prepping. Mormons tend to be hunters and know firearms well-John Moses Browning was a Mormon, enough said.

    But the essence of Christianity is that salvation is not through works, it is by acceptance and faith of the finished work of Christ on the Cross and His resurrection. Mormons do not have that. They have doctrines that are unbiblical and bizarre, much of which are simply borrowed from Freemasonry, as are the original temple ceremonies and layout of the Temple. And the Book of Mormon is a simple work of dishonest fiction, concocted by Joseph Smith.

    Mormonism would have died with Smith, but for Brigham Young, who was ruthless, domineering, charismatic and intended to build a nation with himself as unchallengeable, absolute ruler. He didn’t quite succeed at that, but he did leave a powerful, efficient, appealing organization.

    I find Mormonism fascinating on many levels, but its theology is, to put it bluntly, rotten.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    Between good theology and good organization, good organization wins every time.
    , @MC
    "Most Mormons are not very spiritual and not very Bible literate by the standards of conventional Christianity. I personally believe that few Mormon authorities from bishop up really believe in much of Mormon theology."

    Your contention re: biblical literacy is not borne out by the Pew survey, where Latter-day Saints outscore Protestants and Catholics:
    https://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=50374273&itype=CMSID

    As for whether LDS leaders believe our theology, I really don't know where you're getting that. I suspect you conclude that because they are objectively intelligent people (the current President of the Church is a world-renowned heart surgeon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_M._Nelson), then they must not believe in it. From my interactions with them, I don't believe this is the case at all.
    , @gregor
    The RLDS/Community of Christ has taken an interesting turn in recent decades. It seems to have moved to mainline/pozline Protestantism but with some odd vestiges of Mormonism. They have a Doctrine and Covenants like the LDS but with many revelations unique to their branch, including up through the present day (whereas the LDS church has not added to their version in decades). One of their recent “revelations” is an endorsement of gay marriage.
  111. My suspicion was that much of the popularity of French Theory was due to English department academics trying to erect severe barriers to entry to their profession. Tenure track English professors are particularly in danger of competition from amateur adjunct professors who love great literature for being great literature: e.g., bright empty nest housewives, retired advertising copywriters, and the like. So by insisting upon the requirement the literature teachers be conversant in an ugly, graceless vocabulary of “theory,” you can drive away many people who would love to teach students about the most beautiful writing of history.

    Disagree a little bit here.

    For one, professors in all fields already have powerful cartel protections. As a rule, without approval from the community of scholars (indicated by the PhD), you can’t teach. In the humanities and social sciences at least you also face a far higher barrier to anyone taking your ideas seriously, whatever their merits. These protections go back many centuries and indicate a longstanding insecurity. It is not merely English professors who are vulnerable to the expertise of dedicated autodidacts and amateurs. History (which never saw a full-blown theory incursion) is another tree blooming with low-hanging fruit, as are a great part of the natural sciences.

    The theory drive was already in its senescence when I was at grad school, and to be honest these days I look back on the shallow postmodernist girls (the ones I knew were always girls) with nostalgia. How much better and smarter they were than the race theorists and the queer theorists and the thing theorists and god knows what else. But they also paved the way for the troglodytes of the present , indeed they have done nothing but hire them and approve their daft dissertations with depressing regularity, so they are just as evil.

    As I see it, critical theory happened for these reasons:

    1) It allowed an increasingly leftist group of literary scholars, all of whom were saddled with a creeping shame over their comfortable bourgeois professorial appointments, to enact some simulacrum of leftism in their scholarship. This was ideologically acceptable anyway because the New Left was busy casting the proletariat overboard (they were too reactionary) and scheming about how the revolution would be accomplished within the academy or something ridiculous like that. In general I think leftist ideology makes very tall demands of its adherents and therefore it is rather leftist simulacra – proxies for or enactments of leftism in non-economic contexts that satisfy the same basic instincts and moral impulses – that have exercised most influence in the modern west.

    2) Before litcrit, scholars of literature had to subordinate themselves to the texts that they studied. You see this in Bloom, who is always railing about what a genius somebody like Shakespeare was. Well, our English professor asks herself, isn’t she worth anything? Must her efforts always be footnoted to the scribblings of authors long dead? Here I think it’s especially important that litcrit took off just as women began their rise in the academy, and that many of its early proponents were women and gay men. It places the scholar above the literature, but in a moral sense. The English professor can now lecture Defoe or whoever for his moral failings as a racist colonialist and enjoy superiority. The need to level up on the moral plane specifically strikes me as especially feminine. A similar impatience with always playing second fiddle might have manifested itself much differently in a more masculinized academy, but who knows.

    3) Here’s where I kind of agree with Sailer, but with a different accent: I think scholars of modern English literature (those who first caught the theory virus) are kind of boxed in intellectually. What is it that they do, exactly? The History Department down the hall has a lock on the broader world that produced the works they study, so they can’t do much with context or reception. And unlike medievalists or classicists, their works are written in modern languages and were printed mostly under the aegis of their authors. So there is no philological angle. One thing to do would be to canonize texts full of arcana that require explanation, and here the modernists cooperated e.g. with Joyce. Another thing to do would be to build some kind of broader theory of literature and society or literature and meaning, a proprietary method of criticism and interpretation. Whatever this was to be, it had to stay out of the way of Philosophy departments and so forth. And so they ended up with this politicized textualized paraphilosophical critical system of meaning that they could apply to the canon at will and without any interference.

    4) Building a little on 3), illuminating the greatness of great works – the stock in trade of people like Bloom – is a somewhat shallow project at the end of the day. I’m not deeply versed in older waves of scholarship coming out of English departments, but another thing they would do is read the author’s biography against his works and read his themes and preoccupations in light of his life events. That is also an exercise of limited value. And theory wasn’t totally bereft of ideas. (To see that you need only compare it to Crenshaw’s intersectionality theory, which truly is empty.) Contemplating things like the nature of meaning and its locus strike us as tiresome, because we have heard about it so much, but to some lit profs in the 1970s these questions seemed fresh and new. That they had been asked before in more serious contexts and were merely being repeated in careless ramblings by a bunch of French intellectual frauds was of course another matter.

    • Replies: @Barryroe
    Astute comments.
    , @slumber_j
    You make a lot of sense. But this comment of Steve Sailer's is right--or at least it's right about what dissuaded me from pursuing an undergraduate major in English in the mid-80s:

    So by insisting upon the requirement the literature teachers be conversant in an ugly, graceless vocabulary of “theory,” you can drive away many people who would love to teach students about the most beautiful writing of history.
     
    , @Jack D

    In general I think leftist ideology makes very tall demands of its adherents and therefore it is rather leftist simulacra – proxies for or enactments of leftism in non-economic contexts that satisfy the same basic instincts and moral impulses – that have exercised most influence in the modern west.
     
    Marxism started out as an economic theory but wherever anyone tried to put it into practice it was a total disaster and led not only to poverty but to totalitarianism. Eventually even western leftists could see this and could no longer advocate economic Marxism and attract anyone (although "socialism" is having a comeback now). So they had to come up with a non-economic Marxism instead, which is kind of like a non-Jesus Christianity.
    , @peterike

    I’m not deeply versed in older waves of scholarship coming out of English departments, but another thing they would do is read the author’s biography against his works and read his themes and preoccupations in light of his life events. That is also an exercise of limited value.
     
    Well, everything is ultimately of limited value. But putting a literary work in the context of the author's life and times, if done well, is one of the most illuminating things you can do to give someone a deeper feel for a work of literature or a specific author's work. Historical context is hugely important, and today's students especially know bupkiss about history. It can even inform a work's symbolism (e.g. the color white is generally associated with evil in Herman Melville. Well guess what, his father died as a result of getting stuck in a snow storm. That single factoid is more interesting than fifty volumes of crit theory.)

    There is also still a great deal of hard-slogging work available in literature departments. There are major and minor authors aplenty about whom we know little -- Shakespeare being one. There are still key pieces of information waiting to be found in archives, private collections, etc., but that takes effort. It's much easier to just put Shakespeare into your grievance meat grinder and come out with the usual sausage.

    Now about this quote from Steve:

    So by insisting upon the requirement the literature teachers be conversant in an ugly, graceless vocabulary of “theory,” you can drive away many people who would love to teach students about the most beautiful writing of history.
     
    Yes, but you miss the more important point. What theory and grievance has done is not just discourage teachers, it's discouraged students. Who wants to sit through multiple years of graduate school churning out tiresome, paint-by-numbers grievance term papers or listening to one professor after another saying the same damn thing. The last thing literature departments care about is the love of literature.

    And this is the ultimate own-goal by the English professoriat. They made their own discipline so mind-numbingly dull (even offensive to many people) that they've chased away their own audience. The end result is far fewer tenure level positions and far fewer English teaching positions beyond English 101 and Basic Comp.

    Like typical Leftists, they've eaten their own children for the sake of virtue signalling.
    , @The Last Real Calvinist
    Great comment; thanks very much for it.

    I was a student in a humanities grad program in the late 80s. As you say in point 2, a spirit of ugly triumphalism was ascendant, as the academy's intellectual mediocrities -- and creative ciphers -- rooted through the glories of the western tradition to dig up and fondle the smelly nuggets that 'revealed' the racism/sexism/classism of their civilizational progenitors. How they savored those nasty little mock-ephiphanies -- instead of humility before the text, they could stand as judge, jury, and executioner.

    And, speaking of 'texts', your point 3 is also very well-taken. The adherents of the 'linguistic turn' -- or critical theory, or whatever label they preferred -- were quite cunning in their sudden, self-proclaimed dominion over all cultural artifacts, aka 'texts'. Whereas in the past they'd been limited to studying the canon, now their dubious 'expertise' could be brought to bear upon even the most mundane culture productions. In the short run, this invasion may have inflated the field's self-image, but over time its shallowness and triviality have degraded the whole enterprise of studying literature.

  112. @Dacian Julien Soros
    At the most recent Labour conference, the party proposed a reduction in the working week to 36 hours, a maximum limit for the percentage for privately-educated high-schoolers in the annual intake of state-subsidized universities, and the unification of various local schemes into a national social care system, free at the point of care. That is Marxist left.

    American private college students, derping about LGBT sexuality and race imbalances, are not leftists by any measure.

    Were you not indoctrinated about the supposed dangers of "Marxism", you would describe the woke as "Nazis", or "antiSemites", or some other label you hardly understand, but "know" it should be bad.

    By repeating "insults" you were brainwashed with by Reaganites during kindergarten, you prove yourself as low as the woke. Namecalling should remain in the kindergartens.

    Many American private-college students are self-professed admirers of socialism. And not all of them are woke. Some of the most HBD-aware twentysomethings I know are outspoken proponents of redistributive economic policies.

    Proposals for a guaranteed minimum income and government subsidies for education, housing, and health care enjoy widespread support among middle- and upper-middle-class youth – the kids who have the most to lose. They don’t see the downside.

    Fewer and fewer of these kids have any real ties to heritage America.

    A recent med-school graduate of my acquaintance is always going on about the aggressive homeless panhandlers who accost him on his commute. (Racially, he’s a Thai/Jewish/German-Catholic mix. He’s openly gay.) But he doesn’t blame the bums. His tirades invariably end with a denunciation of the evil rich white males who refuse to subsidize an adequate social safety net.

    The other day, he was triggered when his boomer father – a European-born mischling – referred to a power outage as a “blackout.”

    • Replies: @Dacian Julien Soros
    Having a shorter work week, or a guaranteed free place in a old people's home is unrelated, if not somewhat opposite, to discussing the etymology of "blackouts". The former is related to Marxism, the latter - to Onanism.
  113. @JohnnyD
    I wonder if people confuse Harold Bloom for Alan Bloom, who famously wrote "Closing of the American Mind." Besides having the same last name, both were friendly with the Neoconservatives and Saul Bellow. Also, they were both concerned about the rise of identity politics on college campuses.

    Alan Bloom was fond of teenage boys, I’m not sure about Harold.

  114. @eugyppius

    My suspicion was that much of the popularity of French Theory was due to English department academics trying to erect severe barriers to entry to their profession. Tenure track English professors are particularly in danger of competition from amateur adjunct professors who love great literature for being great literature: e.g., bright empty nest housewives, retired advertising copywriters, and the like. So by insisting upon the requirement the literature teachers be conversant in an ugly, graceless vocabulary of “theory,” you can drive away many people who would love to teach students about the most beautiful writing of history.

     

    Disagree a little bit here.

    For one, professors in all fields already have powerful cartel protections. As a rule, without approval from the community of scholars (indicated by the PhD), you can't teach. In the humanities and social sciences at least you also face a far higher barrier to anyone taking your ideas seriously, whatever their merits. These protections go back many centuries and indicate a longstanding insecurity. It is not merely English professors who are vulnerable to the expertise of dedicated autodidacts and amateurs. History (which never saw a full-blown theory incursion) is another tree blooming with low-hanging fruit, as are a great part of the natural sciences.

    The theory drive was already in its senescence when I was at grad school, and to be honest these days I look back on the shallow postmodernist girls (the ones I knew were always girls) with nostalgia. How much better and smarter they were than the race theorists and the queer theorists and the thing theorists and god knows what else. But they also paved the way for the troglodytes of the present , indeed they have done nothing but hire them and approve their daft dissertations with depressing regularity, so they are just as evil.

    As I see it, critical theory happened for these reasons:

    1) It allowed an increasingly leftist group of literary scholars, all of whom were saddled with a creeping shame over their comfortable bourgeois professorial appointments, to enact some simulacrum of leftism in their scholarship. This was ideologically acceptable anyway because the New Left was busy casting the proletariat overboard (they were too reactionary) and scheming about how the revolution would be accomplished within the academy or something ridiculous like that. In general I think leftist ideology makes very tall demands of its adherents and therefore it is rather leftist simulacra - proxies for or enactments of leftism in non-economic contexts that satisfy the same basic instincts and moral impulses - that have exercised most influence in the modern west.

    2) Before litcrit, scholars of literature had to subordinate themselves to the texts that they studied. You see this in Bloom, who is always railing about what a genius somebody like Shakespeare was. Well, our English professor asks herself, isn't she worth anything? Must her efforts always be footnoted to the scribblings of authors long dead? Here I think it's especially important that litcrit took off just as women began their rise in the academy, and that many of its early proponents were women and gay men. It places the scholar above the literature, but in a moral sense. The English professor can now lecture Defoe or whoever for his moral failings as a racist colonialist and enjoy superiority. The need to level up on the moral plane specifically strikes me as especially feminine. A similar impatience with always playing second fiddle might have manifested itself much differently in a more masculinized academy, but who knows.

    3) Here's where I kind of agree with Sailer, but with a different accent: I think scholars of modern English literature (those who first caught the theory virus) are kind of boxed in intellectually. What is it that they do, exactly? The History Department down the hall has a lock on the broader world that produced the works they study, so they can't do much with context or reception. And unlike medievalists or classicists, their works are written in modern languages and were printed mostly under the aegis of their authors. So there is no philological angle. One thing to do would be to canonize texts full of arcana that require explanation, and here the modernists cooperated e.g. with Joyce. Another thing to do would be to build some kind of broader theory of literature and society or literature and meaning, a proprietary method of criticism and interpretation. Whatever this was to be, it had to stay out of the way of Philosophy departments and so forth. And so they ended up with this politicized textualized paraphilosophical critical system of meaning that they could apply to the canon at will and without any interference.

    4) Building a little on 3), illuminating the greatness of great works - the stock in trade of people like Bloom - is a somewhat shallow project at the end of the day. I'm not deeply versed in older waves of scholarship coming out of English departments, but another thing they would do is read the author's biography against his works and read his themes and preoccupations in light of his life events. That is also an exercise of limited value. And theory wasn't totally bereft of ideas. (To see that you need only compare it to Crenshaw's intersectionality theory, which truly is empty.) Contemplating things like the nature of meaning and its locus strike us as tiresome, because we have heard about it so much, but to some lit profs in the 1970s these questions seemed fresh and new. That they had been asked before in more serious contexts and were merely being repeated in careless ramblings by a bunch of French intellectual frauds was of course another matter.

    Astute comments.

  115. @syonredux
    More Bloom:


    They Have the Numbers; We, The Heights

    My title is from Thucydides and is spoken by the Spartan commander at Thermopylae. Culturally, we are at Thermopylae: the multiculturalists, the hordes of camp- followers afflicted by the French diseases, the mock-feminists, the commissars, the gender-and-power freaks, the hosts of new historicists and old materialists—all stand below us. They will surge up and we may be overcome; our universities are already travesties, and our journalists parody our professors of "cultural studies."
     

    That 1996 anthology is one of the provocations for this essay, since it seems to me a monumental representation of the enemies of the aesthetic who are in the act of overwhelming us. It is of a badness not to be believed, because it follows the criteria now operative: what matters most are the race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, and political purpose of the would-be poet. I ardently wish I were being hyperbolical, but in fact I am exercising restraint, very difficult for a lifelong aesthete at the age of sixty-seven. One cannot expect every attempt at poetry to rival Chaucer and Shakespeare, Milton and Wordsworth, Whitman and Dickinson, Wallace Stevens and Hart Crane. But those poets, and their peers, set the measure: any who aspire to poetry must keep such exemplars always in mind. Sincerity, as the divine Oscar Wilde assured us, is not nearly enough to generate a poem. Bursting with sincerity, the 1996 volume is a Stuffed Owl of bad verse, and of much badness that is neither verse nor prose.
     

    Scolding the universities, or the media, is useless: enormous social pressures—that do not affect the people in general, or the Republican Congress and not very Democratic president the people elected—have been loosed upon institutions hopelessly vulnerable to cultural guilt. Every variety of "studies" at last will be housed: if sexual orientation is to be placed with race, ethnic group, and gender as sources of aesthetic and cognitive values, then why should we not have "Sado-Masochistic Studies," in particular honor of the god of resentment, the late Michel Foucault? If there is a Homosexual Poetic, then why not a Poetics of Pain? If representation-by-category is to be the law of the universities, and of all those they influence, what "minority" is to be excluded? Shakespeare and Dante were European males; is that worth remarking?
     

    Yet nearly all current published criticism of Wordsworth and almost any class taught on him at our universities and colleges now actively condemn this greatest of all modern poets on political grounds, because he "betrayed" his early allegiance to the French Revolution! By our means test, Wordsworth cannot pass. So absurd have the professors become that I can see no way to salvage literary study except to abolish tenure. Tenure is an archaic survival anyway, but it becomes pernicious when faculties are crowded by thousands of ideologues, who resent Wordsworth even as they resent Shakespeare. When I was a young teacher of poetry at Yale, the English Romantic poets were Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, and Keats, as well as Blake and Shelley, whose place in the canon I helped restore. On hundreds of campuses now, these poets have to share attention with the "women Romantic poets": Felicia Hemans, Laetitia Landon, Charlotte Smith, and Mary Tighe, among some others. These were, to understate, justly neglected verse writers, though superior to many in The Best American Poetry 1996. Anthologies of seventeenth-century English literature now give us, side by side with Donne, Ben Johnson, and Milton, a group including the Duchess of Newcastle, Lady Mary Chudleigh, Anne Killigrew, and the venerated Aphra Behn. I have seen my profession dying for over a quarter century now, and in another decade it may be dead. If its function is to appreciate and teach Laetitia Landon and Lady Mary Chudleigh, then the demise cannot come too soon.

     


    One asks again: How could this have happened, and not just in the universities but in the publishing world and in the media? The New York Times essentially is now a countercultural newspaper. When Maya Angelou read a poem for Clinton's first inauguration, the Times printed the text, a monument of sincerity, and in an editorial praised this effusion for its "Whitmanian amplitudes." Recently, one of the Times rock critics proclaimed our contemporary Mozart to be the glyph formerly known as Prince. Literary satire is impossible when the Times exceeds Nathaniel West and Terry Southern in outrageousness. If all aesthetic and cognitive standards are abandoned by professors and journalists alike, then the tradition of American poetry can survive only by a profound inward turning.

     


    It was inevitable that the School of Resentment would do its destructive damage to the reading, staging, and interpretation of Shakespeare, whose eminence is the ultimate demonstration of the autonomy of the aesthetic. Cultural poeticians, ostensible feminists, sub-Marxists, and assorted would-be Parisians have given us French Shakespeare, who never wrote a line but instead sat in a tavern while all the "social energies" of early modern Europe pulsated into his quill and created Hamlet, Falstaff, Iago, and Cleopatra, with little aid from that mere funnel, the Man from Stratford. It has not been explained (at least to me) just why the social energies favored Shakespeare over Thomas Middleton or John Marston or George Chapman or whoever, but this remarkable notion totally dominates today's academic study of Shakespeare. First, Paris told us that language did the thinking and writing for us, but then Foucault emerged, and Shakespeare went from being language's serf to society's minion. No longer can we speak of the best writer--Auden's Top Bard--and if Shakespeare recedes, why call a volume The Best American Poetry? Certainly the 1996 volume should have been retitled The Most Socially Energetic American Poetry, and if I were not Bloom Brontosaurus, an amiable dinosaur, we could have called this book The Most Socially Energetic of the Socially Energetic. The madness that contaminates our once high culture cannot be cured unless and until we surrender our more than Kafkan sense that social guilt is not to be doubted. No thing can be more malignant than a disease of the spirit that sincerely regards itself as virtue.
     

    Each time I make the mistake of glancing at the Yale Weekly Bulletin, I shudder to see that the dean of Yale College has appointed yet another subdean to minister to the supposed cultural interests of another identity club: ethnic, racial, linguistic, with gender and erotic subsets. Shakespeare, performed and read in every country (with the sporadic exception of France, most xenophobic of cultures), is judged by audiences of every race and language to have put them upon the stage. Shakespeare's power has nothing to do with Eurocentrism, maleness, Christianity, or Elizabethan-Jacobean social energies. No one else so combined cognitive strength, originality, dramatic guile, and linguistic florabundance as virtually to reinvent the human, and Shakespeare is therefore the best battlefield upon which to fight the rabblement of Resenters.
     
    http://bostonreview.net/forum/harold-bloom-they-have-numbers-we-heights

    Harald Bloom,spot on:

    One asks again: How could this have happened, and not just in the universities but in the publishing world and in the media? The New York Times essentially is now a countercultural newspaper.

    America, the great freedom stable (Heinrich Heine) – somehow makes or lets such things happen. – All is possible. Yep. But not everything possible is good, isn’t it? – In a way, Bloom sided here with – – – Trump. But unfortunately, he did not “make it explicit”, to quote Robert Brandom.

  116. @Clifford Brown
    Bloom was dismissive of Poe and King, so I had to wonder what his position was on my favorite American horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft. Bloom seems to at least respect Lovecraft. I like to think Bloom appreciated Lovecraft's sense of humor which is lacking in Poe and King.

    Not sure Lovecraft was a “great” writer, but he created several unique worlds – is there anyone quite like him?

    “West of Arkham the hills rise wild, and there are valleys with deep woods that no axe has ever cut. There are dark narrow glens where the trees slope fantastically, and where thin brooklets trickle without ever having caught the glint of sunlight. On the gentler slopes there are farms, ancient and rocky, with squat, moss-coated cottages brooding eternally over old New England secrets in the lee of great ledges…”

    It probably helps to discover him when you’re 12 or 13, and learning new words like ‘eldritch’.

    “Around the feeble fires dark forms were dancing, and Carter was curious as to what manner of beings they might be; for no healthy folk have ever been to Leng, and the place is known only by its fires and stone huts as seen from afar. Very slowly and awkwardly did those forms leap, and with an insane twisting and bending not good to behold…”

    • Replies: @sb
    Isn't Lovecraft a major influence of Michel Houellebecq's ?
    , @syonredux
    My personal favorite passage in HPL's work:



    There was a mind from the planet we know as Venus, which would live incalculable epochs to come, and one from an outer moon of Jupiter six million years in the past. Of earthly minds there were some from the winged, star-headed, half-vegetable race of palaeogean Antarctica; one from the reptile people of fabled Valusia; three from the furry pre-human Hyperborean worshippers of Tsathoggua; one from the wholly abominable Tcho-Tchos; two from the arachnid denizens of earth’s last age; five from the hardy coleopterous species immediately following mankind, to which the Great Race was some day to transfer its keenest minds en masse in the face of horrible peril; and several from different branches of humanity.

    I talked with the mind of Yiang-Li, a philosopher from the cruel empire of Tsan-Chan, which is to come in A.D. 5000; with that of a general of the great-headed brown people who held South Africa in B.C. 50,000; with that of a twelfth-century Florentine monk named Bartolomeo Corsi; with that of a king of Lomar who had ruled that terrible polar land 100,000 years before the squat, yellow Inutos came from the west to engulf it; with that of Nug-Soth, a magician of the dark conquerors of A.D. 16,000; with that of a Roman named Titus Sempronius Blaesus, who had been a quaestor in Sulla’s time; with that of Khephnes, an Egyptian of the 14th Dynasty who told me the hideous secret of Nyarlathotep; with that of a priest of Atlantis’ middle kingdom; with that of a Suffolk gentleman of Cromwell’s day, James Woodville; with that of a court astronomer of pre-Inca Peru; with that of the Australian physicist Nevil Kingston-Brown, who will die in A.D. 2518; with that of an archimage of vanished Yhe in the Pacific; with that of Theodotides, a Graeco-Bactrian official of B.C. 200; with that of an aged Frenchman of Louis XIII’s time named Pierre-Louis Montmagny; with that of Crom-Ya, a Cimmerian chieftain of B.C. 15,000; and with so many others that my brain cannot hold the shocking secrets and dizzying marvels I learned from them.


    -The Shadow Out of Time
    , @Clifford Brown
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXyda5iiGEo
  117. We learn that Prof. Bloom was teaching a class at Yale just last Thursday. Perhaps some kind commenter here can provide the title of that class from the 2019 Fall catalog of courses at Yale.

    • Replies: @res
    https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2019/10/14/sterling-professor-harold-bloom-dies-at-89/

    At Yale, Bloom is teaching two Humanities classes for undergraduates this semester: “Shakespeare and the Canon: Histories, Comedies, and Poems” and “Poetic Influence from Shakespeare to Keats.” He taught his last class at Yale on October 10, 2019.
     
    Don't know which of the two was his last.
  118. @advancedatheist
    Ironically Karl Marx grew up classically educated, and reportedly as an adult he maintained enough fluency to read Aeschylus’ tragedies in the original Greek for pleasure. Not to mention that he could also recite Dante, Shakespeare and Goethe from memory. Many of the early communists similarly put the effort into cultivating their minds with Western literature, music and art. Even Che Guevara, from a later generation, grew up in an educated family with a large library in the household, and reportedly he read voraciously and kept notebooks about the ideas he found in his reading.

    By contrast, the heirs of the leftist tradition who try to engineer our culture these days just don’t come across as cultivated and thoughtful people who could discuss ideas competently. For example, Ta-Nehisi Coates, a current celebrity “intellectual,” admitted in an interview a few years ago that he had never heard of St. Augustine.

    Once upon a time people of a leftist inclination viewed socialism as a continuation of the Western Civilisation tradition ,certainly an extension of the Enlightenment .

    That now seems quite a different country

    • Replies: @Jake
    It seem that way to you, but to me, the Enlightenment and socialism belong together, the latter naturally following the former, as do socialism and cultural suicide, the latter naturally following the former.
  119. @Pericles

    Now there’s… who? Ezra Klein?

     

    The English Department is a post-apocalyptic wasteland with half-rotted zombies dully staring at computer screens where once were actual people. Not necessarily great people but at least people.

    It used to be a respectable racket to get into…

  120. @Thatgirl
    Bloom was right, of course, about the abysmal writing in Harry Potter. Bloom probably didn’t point out one more of the many failings of that series which is the fictional sport of “quidditch,” a game invented by someone who has clearly never played, or even watched, any sports in her life.

    In quidditch, each “goal” scores one point, but if one team captures the other team’s magic ball, it is worth something like 100 points, essentially making all the other goals worthless.

    As one who has suffered through watching every movie in the series with my kid, and tried to read the books, this game drives me batty, especially since the fans of the series seem to think Rowling’s creation of this game is such a stroke of brilliance.

    I’m no apologist for Harry Potter or Ms. Rowling, but I’m pretty sure the Eton Wall Game has a similar scoring system, wherein a goal pretty much trumps whatever other ways there are of scoring points. Which sounds bad, except that practically nobody ever scores a goal.

    • Agree: Jonathan Mason
  121. @eugyppius

    My suspicion was that much of the popularity of French Theory was due to English department academics trying to erect severe barriers to entry to their profession. Tenure track English professors are particularly in danger of competition from amateur adjunct professors who love great literature for being great literature: e.g., bright empty nest housewives, retired advertising copywriters, and the like. So by insisting upon the requirement the literature teachers be conversant in an ugly, graceless vocabulary of “theory,” you can drive away many people who would love to teach students about the most beautiful writing of history.

     

    Disagree a little bit here.

    For one, professors in all fields already have powerful cartel protections. As a rule, without approval from the community of scholars (indicated by the PhD), you can't teach. In the humanities and social sciences at least you also face a far higher barrier to anyone taking your ideas seriously, whatever their merits. These protections go back many centuries and indicate a longstanding insecurity. It is not merely English professors who are vulnerable to the expertise of dedicated autodidacts and amateurs. History (which never saw a full-blown theory incursion) is another tree blooming with low-hanging fruit, as are a great part of the natural sciences.

    The theory drive was already in its senescence when I was at grad school, and to be honest these days I look back on the shallow postmodernist girls (the ones I knew were always girls) with nostalgia. How much better and smarter they were than the race theorists and the queer theorists and the thing theorists and god knows what else. But they also paved the way for the troglodytes of the present , indeed they have done nothing but hire them and approve their daft dissertations with depressing regularity, so they are just as evil.

    As I see it, critical theory happened for these reasons:

    1) It allowed an increasingly leftist group of literary scholars, all of whom were saddled with a creeping shame over their comfortable bourgeois professorial appointments, to enact some simulacrum of leftism in their scholarship. This was ideologically acceptable anyway because the New Left was busy casting the proletariat overboard (they were too reactionary) and scheming about how the revolution would be accomplished within the academy or something ridiculous like that. In general I think leftist ideology makes very tall demands of its adherents and therefore it is rather leftist simulacra - proxies for or enactments of leftism in non-economic contexts that satisfy the same basic instincts and moral impulses - that have exercised most influence in the modern west.

    2) Before litcrit, scholars of literature had to subordinate themselves to the texts that they studied. You see this in Bloom, who is always railing about what a genius somebody like Shakespeare was. Well, our English professor asks herself, isn't she worth anything? Must her efforts always be footnoted to the scribblings of authors long dead? Here I think it's especially important that litcrit took off just as women began their rise in the academy, and that many of its early proponents were women and gay men. It places the scholar above the literature, but in a moral sense. The English professor can now lecture Defoe or whoever for his moral failings as a racist colonialist and enjoy superiority. The need to level up on the moral plane specifically strikes me as especially feminine. A similar impatience with always playing second fiddle might have manifested itself much differently in a more masculinized academy, but who knows.

    3) Here's where I kind of agree with Sailer, but with a different accent: I think scholars of modern English literature (those who first caught the theory virus) are kind of boxed in intellectually. What is it that they do, exactly? The History Department down the hall has a lock on the broader world that produced the works they study, so they can't do much with context or reception. And unlike medievalists or classicists, their works are written in modern languages and were printed mostly under the aegis of their authors. So there is no philological angle. One thing to do would be to canonize texts full of arcana that require explanation, and here the modernists cooperated e.g. with Joyce. Another thing to do would be to build some kind of broader theory of literature and society or literature and meaning, a proprietary method of criticism and interpretation. Whatever this was to be, it had to stay out of the way of Philosophy departments and so forth. And so they ended up with this politicized textualized paraphilosophical critical system of meaning that they could apply to the canon at will and without any interference.

    4) Building a little on 3), illuminating the greatness of great works - the stock in trade of people like Bloom - is a somewhat shallow project at the end of the day. I'm not deeply versed in older waves of scholarship coming out of English departments, but another thing they would do is read the author's biography against his works and read his themes and preoccupations in light of his life events. That is also an exercise of limited value. And theory wasn't totally bereft of ideas. (To see that you need only compare it to Crenshaw's intersectionality theory, which truly is empty.) Contemplating things like the nature of meaning and its locus strike us as tiresome, because we have heard about it so much, but to some lit profs in the 1970s these questions seemed fresh and new. That they had been asked before in more serious contexts and were merely being repeated in careless ramblings by a bunch of French intellectual frauds was of course another matter.

    You make a lot of sense. But this comment of Steve Sailer’s is right–or at least it’s right about what dissuaded me from pursuing an undergraduate major in English in the mid-80s:

    So by insisting upon the requirement the literature teachers be conversant in an ugly, graceless vocabulary of “theory,” you can drive away many people who would love to teach students about the most beautiful writing of history.

    • Replies: @eugyppius
    They were atrocious scholars, with an obnoxious and childish penchant for hate-reading the western canon. They kept sensible people away from the study of literature for a solid generation, maybe two. The result is that the field is still full of lunatics even as the Theory that selected for them is now largely moribund.
  122. “School of Resentment”. Now that’s a term as useful as “Grievance Studies”.

    At least the intellectual backlash to the Third Great Intersectionality Cultural Revolution is greater thanks to the Internet and the sheer scale. See “The Madness of Crowds” for example.

  123. @JohnnyD
    He was prophetic about Harry Potter. The kids who grew up reading Harry Potter are now annoying SJWs who are always using Harry Potter metaphors.

    Except, of course, “The Half Blood Prince”.

  124. @advancedatheist
    Ironically Karl Marx grew up classically educated, and reportedly as an adult he maintained enough fluency to read Aeschylus’ tragedies in the original Greek for pleasure. Not to mention that he could also recite Dante, Shakespeare and Goethe from memory. Many of the early communists similarly put the effort into cultivating their minds with Western literature, music and art. Even Che Guevara, from a later generation, grew up in an educated family with a large library in the household, and reportedly he read voraciously and kept notebooks about the ideas he found in his reading.

    By contrast, the heirs of the leftist tradition who try to engineer our culture these days just don’t come across as cultivated and thoughtful people who could discuss ideas competently. For example, Ta-Nehisi Coates, a current celebrity “intellectual,” admitted in an interview a few years ago that he had never heard of St. Augustine.

    Coates failed both American and English Lit at Howard University and failed to graduate but the MacArthur Foundation gave him one of their genius awards just for being black.

    • LOL: Herbert West
  125. @Anonymous
    Wow. This guy was like the Jewish Revilo Oliver. Although neither would probably have liked to hear that;-)

    Could Bloom read Sanskrit? Did he retranslate original Greek texts regularly?

  126. anon[597] • Disclaimer says:

    Professor Bloom called himself “a monster” of reading; he said he could read, and absorb, a 400-page book in an hour. …

    Armed with a photographic memory, Professor Bloom could recite acres of poetry by heart — by his account, the whole of Shakespeare, Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” all of William Blake, the Hebraic Bible and Edmund Spenser’s monumental “The Fairie Queen.” …

    Ah, so he was a bullshitter, then?

    • Replies: @Sean
    He was a BS artist. There is not any other kind of artist. Art is all about the freedom from our objective fate of being limited in or capabilities, aging and dying, and instead offers the promise of "infinite powers, possibilities, and potential".

    AS one obit has it "Harold Bloom wished to distance himself from culture war polemics, he has unapologetically practiced what Allan Bloom preached". So philosophy is BS too.

  127. From Bloom’s, Gnostic point of view- he does not rest in peace. Finally, finally, his divine spark has been released & he enjoys superabundant eternal life. Not rest, but more infinitely more life.

    Here is how he, with one minor mistake I won’t expatiate upon, has summed up his Gnostic views on resurrection (which coincided with his & following the steps of Valentinus of Alexandria & Shaykh Al Akhsai from 1827.):

    ———————
    Each human being, Corbin comments, possesses four aspects of a body. Corbin charts them, and I adapt them here in simplified form:

    1. The “elemental” or apparent body, the one that we can see, touch, and weigh: it is accidental and perishable. Let us call it the “apparent body,” for convenience.

    2. Within (1) there is a hidden body, also elemental but essential and imperishable: “spiritual flesh,” as Corbin calls it, which I will adopt.

    3. The traditional “astral body,” not elemental yet still accidental, not everlasting, because it will be reabsorbed by divinity in the resurrection. I will call it the “astral body” proper.

    4. The eternal, subtle body, essential and angelic, the ultimate guarantee of individuality, and akin to the zelem of Kabbalah and the “immortal body” of the Hermetic writings. Let us call it the “angelic body.”

    What are the advantages, spiritual and expositional, of this fourfold scheme? Its added complexity is to give us two versions of the astral body of tradition, “astral” yet not eternal, and “angelic” or everlasting. The relation between the “apparent body” and “spiritual flesh” is parallel to that between the “astral body” and the “angelic body.” Since orthodox, Sunni Islam interpreted the Koran as literally as many Christians have read the New Testament, resurrection to them meant the return to the “apparent body,” just as it was. But in the Shi’ite Sufi vision, both the “apparent body” and the “astral body” eventually vanish, while a fusion of “spiritual flesh” and “angelic body” ultimately abides. That “spiritual flesh” is equivalent to the ancient Gnostic metaphor of the “spark,” or innermost self, which is no part of Creation but is already a particle of God, since it is as old as God. When Gnostics, ancient or modern, speak of the Resurrection as already having taken place, they mean that they firmly distinguish between the outward body and the spark. The Sufi “angelic body” is akin to the ancient Gnostic “Angel Christ,” the fulfilled form of the surviving sparks.
    ——

    So, if you consider his death from ordinary, materialist perspective, there is nothing to rest in peace. “He” ceased to be. On the other hand, if you accept his position- his real, abundant life just begins, no “rest” nor anything similar.

  128. C-P on old Bloom:

    I’ve read 10 + Bloom’s books & he constantly harps on these authors: Shakespeare, Chaucer, Dante, Milton, Whitman, Tolstoy, Montaigne, Kafka, Freud, Samuel Johnson, Whitman, Dickens, Dickinson … George Eliot is lavishly praised for her philo-Semitism. Nathanael West is also his favorite.

    His fave authors not listed among those “narrowly canonical” are Swift, Richardson, Hart Crane & Wallace Stevens. Orwell, Camus, Garcia Marquez, …in his view overrated. O’Connor almost great, but her Catholicism annoys him. He openly hates Celine & especially P. Wyndham Lewis.

    He grudgingly admits Dostoevsky’s greatness, but always finds a way to marginalize him (bad antisemite, bad). For instance, Bloom compiled a book of criticism on Tolstoy where he took a chapter from Steiner’s work “Tolstoy or Dostoevsky’”, but somehow “forgot” to include parts from Steiner where Steiner openly expresses the view that Dostoevsky is deeper & more significant writer than Tolstoy (or at least, more relevant).

    Bloom’s weaknesses are sometimes laughable. Just a few rambling associations….

    Bloom’s”theory” is that Shakespeare’s characters change because they overhear themselves. Actually, this is a dramatic device, not necessary for, say, novels. Of course that Shakespeare’s characters are more vivid & memorable than most of his predecessors’, but this has nothing to do with this purely technical artifice. And his Bardolatry is absurd – even when writing on Kafka, he has to mention Shake as a creator of “shamanic cosmos”. He is right in his claim that Conrad was central formative influence on Faulkner & Fitzgerald, but re Hemingway- wrong; also, he wrote on Milton basically “overhearing” himself about Shakespeare. Nothing new.

    Bloom got it right that the ending of Goethe’s “Faust” is “cultural appropriation” of Dante & Catholic mythology, but in a creative way. Kudos for that. His chapters on Dickinson & Dickens & Eliot are his personal projections. Not much insight.

    Anyway, I’d comment on some of his books..

    Don’t bother, a waste of time. True, there are some interesting personal details, be he mostly writes & quotes poems- not something very appealing.

    Read it, especially parts on novels & short stories (drama & poetry I haven’t found of much interest)

    Chapters on Dante, Goethe, Johnson, Proust are great. Dickens, Whitman & Shakespeare- a mixed bag. Freud, Dickinson, Joyce, Beckett, Borges..either weird or worthless.

    Inflated nonsense, avoid it.

    Surprisingly readable, if you accept his weird Kabbalah scheme, a fun to read.

    Good all-American book. Recommended.

    Nonsense, but still funny.

    Surprise, surprise- good.

    He’s wrong about virtually everything, but, if you want fun ….

    Western Gnosis. Highly recommended. Also, thrashes New Age.

    • Replies: @nebulafox
    Bloom on Dostoevsky:

    "Absorbing as Crime and Punishment is, it cannot be absolved of tendentiousness, which is Dostoevsky's invariable flaw. He is a partisan, whose fierce perspective is always explicit in what he writes. His design upon us is to raise us, like Lazarus, from our own nihilism and skepticism, and then convert us to Orthodoxy. Writers as eminent as Chekhov and Nabokov have been unable to abide him; to them he was scarcely an artist, but a shrill would-be prophet. I myself, with each rereading, find Crime and Punishment an ordeal, dreadfully powerful but somewhat pernicious, almost as though it were Macbeth composed by Macbeth himself."

    See, but that's what makes Dostoevsky really good. It's not that I always agree with him. I'm not religious. Nor am I Russian, so ultimately I'm not sure how much Dostoevsky himself would expect or want me to fully identify with him. He's a consistent check on my own thinking, on the limits of rationality. I don't think he'd be able to do that with a scholarly analysis, I don't think he'd be... a psychologist, to the degree that he is, the only psychologist worth reading. When you are dealing with something as fundamentally irrational, tendentious, and fierce as a human being's inner thoughts and desires, you'll never truly impress anything on the heart of your reader if you aren't afraid to take the plunge into that world.

    (This is what everybody gets wrong about the Grand Inquisitor's story: Dostoevsky is not advocating Ivan's perspective. He understands it, analyzes it, sympathizes with it in some respects, even shows the doubts he has himself when Shatov in Demons says that he "will" believe in God. But he's not agreeing, and he's not hypocritically pretending to be something he isn't. It shows in his writing, that fundamental honesty. He's still an Orthodox man who ultimately advocates an Orthodox argument. He isn't upset about the lack of a rational, individual response, because he gives theological and communal ones instead.)

    , @syonredux
    When I was in High School, I used to play a little game when I read Bloom. How far into the text would I get before Bloom referenced Gnosticism. Sometimes I wouldn't make it through the first paragraph......
    , @Dieter Kief
    Thanks, your list is very interesting!

    Gnosticism is Blooms weapon and shields against the temptations (and the inherent - danger at least of - shallowness) of secularization (= cf. The Coddling of the American Mind - a book, that helps understand the losses of a mindset, which has freed itself completely from "The Other" (transcendence) and thus regresses to a childish self-adoration (narcissism). If only there would have a discourse between thinkers like Bloom and theologians etc.

    Jordan Petersons Jungnisanism is something close to Bloom.

    As is the late Jürgen Habermas' turn to the acceptance of the Europan religious tradition as something essential for the enlightenment and rationality as well - and modernity, too. He thus coined the term post-secularism, to indicate that is is in his eyes no longer necessary to dismiss religion as such, as Freud did.

    Ernst Bloch's Atheism in Chritianity fits in here quite nicely.

    Fromm understood this stuff too. Freud tried to circumvent it and thus got stuck in fruitless and stiff meditations on the Old Testament/ Moses.

  129. “My suspicion was that much of the popularity of French Theory was due to English department academics trying to erect severe barriers to entry to their profession.”

    There is a great deal of truth to that, but it worked primarily in ways other than you think. To start, they wanted to deconstruct and cast aside nearly everything to focused on white Southerners who were not clearly Liberal. As the vast majority of specialists in such writers were white Southern and moderate leaning toward conservative, the blow to English departments retaining any semblance of non-Liberalism from such a move would be a virtual death blow.

    They also intended to kill the then rising interest in non-WASP white cultures. Colleges across the country by the late 1980s were seeing interest in things like Irish -American and Italian-American writing, and that had to be murdered as well, shut out of the academy.

  130. @Boston Sid
    Bloom was unique among a Jewish men. He didn’t target a shiksa.

    https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/a15844647/naomi-wolf-yale-harold-bloom/

    Will Yale Finally Listen to Naomi Wolf?

    Thirteen years after she claimed she had been "sexually encroached" upon by Harold Bloom, a professor at Yale, the feminist author tries again. Will #MeToo help her cause?

    by NORMAN VANAMEE
    JAN 23, 2018

    ... Wolf, a Rhodes Scholar with a doctorate from Oxford, has stated that while attending Yale as an undergraduate she was sexually assaulted by Harold Bloom, the noted literary critic and Yale faculty member. Bloom, in a 2015 interview with Time magazine, and in a recent email to Town & Country, denied her claim. Wolf has also stated that since 2016 her attempts to file a formal grievance with Yale’s University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct have been thwarted...

     

    Hasn’t Wolf’s literary reputation recently been ,if not exactly trashed ,certainly rather diminished by her making of claims based on her ignorance of the historical record ?

  131. @sb
    Once upon a time people of a leftist inclination viewed socialism as a continuation of the Western Civilisation tradition ,certainly an extension of the Enlightenment .

    That now seems quite a different country

    It seem that way to you, but to me, the Enlightenment and socialism belong together, the latter naturally following the former, as do socialism and cultural suicide, the latter naturally following the former.

  132. @YetAnotherAnon
    Not sure Lovecraft was a "great" writer, but he created several unique worlds - is there anyone quite like him?

    "West of Arkham the hills rise wild, and there are valleys with deep woods that no axe has ever cut. There are dark narrow glens where the trees slope fantastically, and where thin brooklets trickle without ever having caught the glint of sunlight. On the gentler slopes there are farms, ancient and rocky, with squat, moss-coated cottages brooding eternally over old New England secrets in the lee of great ledges..."
     
    It probably helps to discover him when you're 12 or 13, and learning new words like 'eldritch'.

    "Around the feeble fires dark forms were dancing, and Carter was curious as to what manner of beings they might be; for no healthy folk have ever been to Leng, and the place is known only by its fires and stone huts as seen from afar. Very slowly and awkwardly did those forms leap, and with an insane twisting and bending not good to behold..."
     

    Isn’t Lovecraft a major influence of Michel Houellebecq’s ?

    • Replies: @syonredux

    Isn’t Lovecraft a major influence of Michel Houellebecq’s ?
     
    Major enough that Houellebecq wrote a book about HPL:


    H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life

    In this early published work (which he calls his "first novel"), Houellebecq describes having discovered Lovecraft as a teenager and being struck by how each story was, as he describes, "an open slice of howling fear." He describes a fascination with Lovecraft's anti-modernity,[1] what he supposes is Lovecraft's profound hatred of life and philosophical denial of the real world; Houellebecq notes that his works include "not a single allusion to two of the realities to which we generally ascribe great importance: sex and money." He posits Lovecraft as an American existentialist for whom both life and death are meaningless. He also praises what he sees as Lovecraft's rejection of democracy and progressivism.[2]
     
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._P._Lovecraft:_Against_the_World,_Against_Life
  133. Western giants like Shakespeare, Chaucer and Kafka

    One of these things is not like the others. There’s a falling off towards the end.

  134. @gregor
    Eh, this Bloom guy sounds okay in my book. I can’t object to his defense of classic literature or his assaults on left wing literary criticism. We can only hope for more “subversives” in this mold. It’s true that if it weren’t for his coethnics there would be little need for such a defense of dead white males and he is at best canceling out a minuscule portion of the damage caused by other Jewish academics, but I’m not going to hold that against him personally. At the same time, I can’t give him too much credit for calling out that stuff that’s so transparently stupid. And I find it galling that only Jews seem to be permitted to act in this sort of role, at least in elite venues. Could a goy write like Bloom without being drummed out of academia for white supremacy? Do any of them dare try? (Similarly for some reason Pinker seems to be the only elite professor who can flirt with biological realism.)

    One thing I would be interested to know is if there is any subtle (or not so subtle) Jewish boosterism in Bloom’s work. Shakespeare, Chaucer, and ... Kafka? Likewise, in one of syon’s quotes here the thread Bloom praises Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, and Arthur Miller. Odd that he picks only Jews for his examples of good modern writers in that sentence.

    The elements of Jewish boosterism in Bloom’s work, eg, who he prefers, who he disdains, his confessed indebtedness to Jewish scriptural modalities of textual exegesis, etc. are omnipresent and by no means subtle.

  135. Professor Bloom called himself “a monster” of reading; he said he could read, and absorb, a 400-page book in an hour. …

    Bloom said he could read a 400 page book in an hour and Trump says he only gets 4 hours of sleep a night. These guys are either bullshit artists or freaks of nature.

    Leprechaun Baby Boomer Globalizer Treasonite James Comey in an adulatory puff piece in the New York Times says he gets 9 hours of sleep a night. Comey also says he does pull ups, which is the only smart thing I think I’ve ever heard him say, besides when he said the federal government can’t properly vet all the REFUGEE OVERLOAD pouring into the USA.

    Pull ups are balance of using your own weight to increase the strength of your muscles and your stamina to do things with your muscles.

    Kick Kafka to the curb Bloom, that’s what I would have said to Harold if I met him and he hadn’t croaked.

  136. @Ibound1
    The decline in overall IQ will kill Shakespeare study in the US. If everyone doesn’t appreciate Shakespeare, then Shakespeare will have to go. They will disguise this with the normal multi-culti “we need art that speaks to the student” mumbo jumbo.

    I had a student, an English major, who couldn’t be more dismissive of Shakespeare.
    At 20 she was already an ardent feminist, and to her, I suppose, he was merely
    one more Dead White Male she was forced to study. However, she got
    around the requirement by taking her Shakespeare class as a quick Supervised
    Study course during summer. By the way, she was white.

  137. @Anonymous

    As somewhat of a side matter, I also profess my surprise that in a somewhat antisemite leaning forum like UNZ Review, nobody here takes issue with Bloom’s attempt to put TS Eliot / Ezra Pound in their places by demoting their stature within the cannon.
     
    Bloom was, presumably, Jewish, but since we aren't irrational "antisemites" [sic], we don't let that interfere too much with admiring a bright guy, just as most of us would agree Feynman and Von Neumann were really, really smart.

    Feynman and von Neumann did science and math so they are tough to disagree with, but Bloom’s work dealt with culture. As we all know, Jews are Cultural Marxists so being very bright only makes them more destructive.

    You admire Bloom not just because he was very bright but also because you agree with his positions. As usual, I agree with Bloom about Eliot and Pound. Eliot was a lightweight (I hate cats) and Pound was nuts, or even worse he really wasn’t nuts and meant what he said when he became the Tokyo Rose of Fascist Italy.

    • Replies: @peterike

    Pound was nuts, or even worse he really wasn’t nuts and meant what he said when he became the Tokyo Rose of Fascist Italy.
     
    Politically, Pound was pretty much correct about everything.
    , @Ministry of Tongues
    Eliot will survive as a George Herbert-like poet, good within a narrow range.

    Late in life even Bloom relented on "La Figlia Che Piange," which really is a beautiful poem.
  138. Professor Bloom’s peerless advocacy of The Western Canon is a perfect example of small “c” conservatism. Somewhere, Mssrs. Burke and Kirk are congratulating him for a job well done.

  139. @gregor
    I left a very similar reply without noticing your post. Mormons and Jews are interesting to compare and contrast. One thing though (contra Bloom) is that at present Mormonism is still fundamentally credal and there’s no “reform” version like Judaism. And it’s difficult to see such a thing arising any time soon given that it’s very centralized and Salt Lake runs a pretty tight ship (excommunication, etc). Whether intentional or not, Mormonism is set up to pretty much force out people who aren’t serious. And (again contra Bloom) my impression is that lapsed members often don’t retain much secular Mormon identity, certainly nothing like the phenomenon of the secular Jew.

    Somewhat related: I wonder if there might be a market for a “fake” religion for conservatives. That is to say something that’s theologically lenient and consistent with modern science but simultaneously traditional and non-degenerate. Like Episcopalian but not completely gay.

    There are no Reform Mormons but there are groups of Mormons who are to the right of the established church because they have stuck with polygamy, etc.

  140. @donvonburg
    Mormonism has had several schisms, starting with the Reorganized LDS (now the Community of Christ), the Fundamentalist LDS, the Temple Lot, and a half dozen or more that have died out by now. The LDS mothership is on more or less speaking terms with the Community of Christ, who owns the original Kirtland temple, and to varying degrees or not at all with the others.

    Being an active member of the LDS church is demanding. You have to tithe and prove your tithe really is ten percent of your income to the bishop in an interview. You have to show compliance with the Word of Wisdom, and generally look, act, and smell like a Mormon ought to. You will be pressured to get more involved in this or that activity until most of the time you are not sleeping or at work you are doing something for the church.

    Most Mormons are not very spiritual and not very Bible literate by the standards of conventional Christianity. I personally believe that few Mormon authorities from bishop up really believe in much of Mormon theology. They are in it because they think Mormons have built an alternate and better society with good works-and in some ways, they have. Mormons have solid stable families that do well, and they have a non-government, non-coercive social safety net. No Mormon starves, no Mormon lacks medical care, no Mormon willing and able to work and of decent IQ and character stays underemployed. I admire that.

    They also are big into preparedness, with a food pantry, and many are into serious prepping. Mormons tend to be hunters and know firearms well-John Moses Browning was a Mormon, enough said.

    But the essence of Christianity is that salvation is not through works, it is by acceptance and faith of the finished work of Christ on the Cross and His resurrection. Mormons do not have that. They have doctrines that are unbiblical and bizarre, much of which are simply borrowed from Freemasonry, as are the original temple ceremonies and layout of the Temple. And the Book of Mormon is a simple work of dishonest fiction, concocted by Joseph Smith.

    Mormonism would have died with Smith, but for Brigham Young, who was ruthless, domineering, charismatic and intended to build a nation with himself as unchallengeable, absolute ruler. He didn't quite succeed at that, but he did leave a powerful, efficient, appealing organization.

    I find Mormonism fascinating on many levels, but its theology is, to put it bluntly, rotten.

    Between good theology and good organization, good organization wins every time.

    • Replies: @Autochthon
    (((Thou))) sayest.
  141. @Boston Sid
    Bloom was unique among a Jewish men. He didn’t target a shiksa.

    https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/a15844647/naomi-wolf-yale-harold-bloom/

    Will Yale Finally Listen to Naomi Wolf?

    Thirteen years after she claimed she had been "sexually encroached" upon by Harold Bloom, a professor at Yale, the feminist author tries again. Will #MeToo help her cause?

    by NORMAN VANAMEE
    JAN 23, 2018

    ... Wolf, a Rhodes Scholar with a doctorate from Oxford, has stated that while attending Yale as an undergraduate she was sexually assaulted by Harold Bloom, the noted literary critic and Yale faculty member. Bloom, in a 2015 interview with Time magazine, and in a recent email to Town & Country, denied her claim. Wolf has also stated that since 2016 her attempts to file a formal grievance with Yale’s University-Wide Committee on Sexual Misconduct have been thwarted...

     

    If Wolfe is a ph.d then the phrase “piled high and deep” was never more appropriate. What a whiny douche bag!!

  142. @eugyppius

    My suspicion was that much of the popularity of French Theory was due to English department academics trying to erect severe barriers to entry to their profession. Tenure track English professors are particularly in danger of competition from amateur adjunct professors who love great literature for being great literature: e.g., bright empty nest housewives, retired advertising copywriters, and the like. So by insisting upon the requirement the literature teachers be conversant in an ugly, graceless vocabulary of “theory,” you can drive away many people who would love to teach students about the most beautiful writing of history.

     

    Disagree a little bit here.

    For one, professors in all fields already have powerful cartel protections. As a rule, without approval from the community of scholars (indicated by the PhD), you can't teach. In the humanities and social sciences at least you also face a far higher barrier to anyone taking your ideas seriously, whatever their merits. These protections go back many centuries and indicate a longstanding insecurity. It is not merely English professors who are vulnerable to the expertise of dedicated autodidacts and amateurs. History (which never saw a full-blown theory incursion) is another tree blooming with low-hanging fruit, as are a great part of the natural sciences.

    The theory drive was already in its senescence when I was at grad school, and to be honest these days I look back on the shallow postmodernist girls (the ones I knew were always girls) with nostalgia. How much better and smarter they were than the race theorists and the queer theorists and the thing theorists and god knows what else. But they also paved the way for the troglodytes of the present , indeed they have done nothing but hire them and approve their daft dissertations with depressing regularity, so they are just as evil.

    As I see it, critical theory happened for these reasons:

    1) It allowed an increasingly leftist group of literary scholars, all of whom were saddled with a creeping shame over their comfortable bourgeois professorial appointments, to enact some simulacrum of leftism in their scholarship. This was ideologically acceptable anyway because the New Left was busy casting the proletariat overboard (they were too reactionary) and scheming about how the revolution would be accomplished within the academy or something ridiculous like that. In general I think leftist ideology makes very tall demands of its adherents and therefore it is rather leftist simulacra - proxies for or enactments of leftism in non-economic contexts that satisfy the same basic instincts and moral impulses - that have exercised most influence in the modern west.

    2) Before litcrit, scholars of literature had to subordinate themselves to the texts that they studied. You see this in Bloom, who is always railing about what a genius somebody like Shakespeare was. Well, our English professor asks herself, isn't she worth anything? Must her efforts always be footnoted to the scribblings of authors long dead? Here I think it's especially important that litcrit took off just as women began their rise in the academy, and that many of its early proponents were women and gay men. It places the scholar above the literature, but in a moral sense. The English professor can now lecture Defoe or whoever for his moral failings as a racist colonialist and enjoy superiority. The need to level up on the moral plane specifically strikes me as especially feminine. A similar impatience with always playing second fiddle might have manifested itself much differently in a more masculinized academy, but who knows.

    3) Here's where I kind of agree with Sailer, but with a different accent: I think scholars of modern English literature (those who first caught the theory virus) are kind of boxed in intellectually. What is it that they do, exactly? The History Department down the hall has a lock on the broader world that produced the works they study, so they can't do much with context or reception. And unlike medievalists or classicists, their works are written in modern languages and were printed mostly under the aegis of their authors. So there is no philological angle. One thing to do would be to canonize texts full of arcana that require explanation, and here the modernists cooperated e.g. with Joyce. Another thing to do would be to build some kind of broader theory of literature and society or literature and meaning, a proprietary method of criticism and interpretation. Whatever this was to be, it had to stay out of the way of Philosophy departments and so forth. And so they ended up with this politicized textualized paraphilosophical critical system of meaning that they could apply to the canon at will and without any interference.

    4) Building a little on 3), illuminating the greatness of great works - the stock in trade of people like Bloom - is a somewhat shallow project at the end of the day. I'm not deeply versed in older waves of scholarship coming out of English departments, but another thing they would do is read the author's biography against his works and read his themes and preoccupations in light of his life events. That is also an exercise of limited value. And theory wasn't totally bereft of ideas. (To see that you need only compare it to Crenshaw's intersectionality theory, which truly is empty.) Contemplating things like the nature of meaning and its locus strike us as tiresome, because we have heard about it so much, but to some lit profs in the 1970s these questions seemed fresh and new. That they had been asked before in more serious contexts and were merely being repeated in careless ramblings by a bunch of French intellectual frauds was of course another matter.

    In general I think leftist ideology makes very tall demands of its adherents and therefore it is rather leftist simulacra – proxies for or enactments of leftism in non-economic contexts that satisfy the same basic instincts and moral impulses – that have exercised most influence in the modern west.

    Marxism started out as an economic theory but wherever anyone tried to put it into practice it was a total disaster and led not only to poverty but to totalitarianism. Eventually even western leftists could see this and could no longer advocate economic Marxism and attract anyone (although “socialism” is having a comeback now). So they had to come up with a non-economic Marxism instead, which is kind of like a non-Jesus Christianity.

    • Agree: Johann Ricke
    • Replies: @The Germ Theory of Disease
    "Marxism started out as an economic theory"

    ??!??

    Piteous Jay you're a doofus.

    Please go back to lecturing us on the finer points of cow-wrestling in Western Australia, and how the Perth style of the 1940s differs from the Queensland Buckaroos from the 1970s. For the love of humanity.
    , @Yojimbo/Zatoichi
    "a non-Jesus Christianity"

    Akin to Universalism/Unitarianism or Reformed Judaism.

    , @eugyppius
    Right, I had in mind more the personal context of the leftist English professor, who could either give up his coveted tenure-track appointment to bask in ideological purity, or find some way to square leftism with his rank bourgeois careerist pursuits. This is the circle that I think Marcuse and the New Left were trying to square (also they found the proletariat culturally and politically distasteful). And the strange attraction/mismatch between bourgeois types and leftism is why these New Left-style displacements keep happening, with the result that leftism as a force is most active in the cultural sphere.
    Disillusionment with Marxist experiments abroad was naturally a precondition for this mess.
    , @nebulafox
    I think that's part of it, but I think what advancedatheist mentioned is also true: there's just a complete lack of intellectual curiosity or originality. (Old-fashioned Marxists, for all their myriad-and often horrific-flaws mostly would have been appalled at the idea of trashing classical/European philosophy, literature, and history, among many other things: such as the embracing of woke capital.) Since information is everywhere and the price of getting has been cheapened, the fight for actual intellectual gains takes a more conscious effort, and the age of the Internet has radically decreased the average attention span. I'm making a conscious effort to regain the ability to learn right now: most worthwhile thing I've done in life, but it is no joke.

    They aren't the first group of aspiring revolutionaries to be made and influenced by a culture they openly despise, but they are probably the first to be this utterly unaware of it, and the first to more or less copy-and-paste the underlying structure of what they see around them. In a way, the God-less Christianity is scarier than previous totalitarian movements precisely because of its claims to totality, because in their thinking, no human being is truly irredeemable to a greater scale than previous ideologies: and thus everybody will be reached.

    Not that this diminished intellectual incapacity is limited to the Left in American politics: who needs Montesquieu or Burke when you got Hannity, right? But at least there's some push-back on the Right against the aggressive hostility to reality of the 21st Century GOP, such as this blog, some vestige of independent, empirical thinking, and there's no insistent demand that everybody share the same mode of thinking. I cannot see any analogue to this with the Democrats, perhaps because despite practical political power wielded by the GOP, they've so utterly dominated the cultural apparatus. They've forgotten that other world-views exist, because as far as they are concerned, they don't.

  143. @Reg Cæsar

    “Shakespeare is God,” he declared
     
    Well, he sure as hell wasn't Bacon, Marlowe or de Vere.

    True dat.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespeare_authorship_question#Evidence_for_Shakespeare’s_authorship_from_his_works

    Beginning in 1987, Ward Elliott, who was sympathetic to the Oxfordian theory, and Robert J. Valenza supervised a continuing stylometric study that used computer programs to compare Shakespeare’s stylistic habits to the works of 37 authors who had been proposed as the true author. The study, known as the Claremont Shakespeare Clinic, was last held in the spring of 2010.[128] The tests determined that Shakespeare’s work shows consistent, countable, profile-fitting patterns, suggesting that he was a single individual, not a committee, and that he used fewer relative clauses and more hyphens, feminine endings, and run-on lines than most of the writers with whom he was compared. The result determined that none of the other tested claimants’ work could have been written by Shakespeare, nor could Shakespeare have been written by them, eliminating all of the claimants whose known works have survived—including Oxford, Bacon, and Marlowe—as the true authors of the Shakespeare canon.

    • Replies: @Alden
    Glad to hear it. I never liked the sheer snobbery and historical ignorance of the Oxfordians and Baconites Shakespeare never went to university. It was a seminary for priests. Hardly anyone but clergy went to university in those days

    His father was a poor glove maker. His father was a mayor, alderman, owned the workshop a house and at least one rental property Shakespeare went to the grammar school the equivalent of a junior college today.

    Deplorable bumpkin couldn’t have written about Italy. How do the snobs know for sure he never went to Italy? There were maps and books about Italy in England in those days. Deplorable bumb kin wouldn’t have known about history. Couldn’t have written those historical plays.

    Cesear, Mark Antony the English kings and Queens were common knowledge. And were studied in the grammar schools. Shakespeare and his classmates learned Latin and read Cesear’s writings in the grammar school as it was part of the standard curriculum. Macbeth was a real Scottish Warlord. Must have been some King Arthur type stories about him.

    My favorite plays are Much Ado About Nothing and Titus Andronicus
    , @Reg Cæsar
    Elliott's father was a lawyer (of course) and an Oxfordian. (Is that pronounced "Ox - FORJ - an"? Why isn't it "Oxonian"?) The Claremont Study, with which I'm familiar, was a parricide of sorts.

    The secret to attribution isn't to focus on the big things, but the trivial. E.g., Hamilton and Madison thought along similar lines and grappled with the same issues. But one was fond of the word upon, while the other almost never used it. Using that strategy, it was easy to attribute the disputed chapters of the Federalist Papers with some confidence.


    https://priceonomics.com/how-statistics-solved-a-175-year-old-mystery-about/

  144. @Rapparee

    Armed with a photographic memory, Professor Bloom could recite acres of poetry by heart — by his account, the whole of Shakespeare, Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” all of William Blake, the Hebraic Bible and Edmund Spenser’s monumental “The Fairie Queen.”
     
    My cousin's college English professor once said, "Never trust anyone who claims to have read the entirely of The Faerie Queene- he's either lying, or he's actually insane". I took this as a challenge, finished the whole thing in under 40 days whilst working full-time, and wound up absolutely adoring it (far too much even to be annoyed by Spenser's not-entirely-unjustified animus toward bog-trotting Paddy Papists like me and mine). I have had grave doubts about my mental health ever since.

    There’s a soft-cover copy of FQ in (of all places) the laundry room of our building. I’m going to guess that it’s about four inches thick. I vote “insane.”

  145. Whether you agree with Bloom re this or that author- you have to concede he was right when he prophesied that reading for pleasure will have mostly vanished in near future. Everyday experience confirms that.

    • Replies: @Anonymous

    Whether you agree with Bloom re this or that author- you have to concede he was right when he prophesied that reading for pleasure will have mostly vanished in near future. Everyday experience confirms that.
     
    People still read for pleasure. The problem is people don't read for meaning and expression, but then, maybe literature has been exhausted. All that is left is 'reading for pleasure'. People want good stories well told. They don't care about what literature can do. Modernism exhausted what literature can do. Stream-of-consciousness was once new and exciting. There were all sorts of experimentalism, but what new stuff can be done?

    Also, it gets kind of boring to say, with every new generation, that certain writers were great. So they were. So, all that is left is the game of making literature relevant to our times, and that means politicizing them according to the latest fads.
  146. @Jack D

    In general I think leftist ideology makes very tall demands of its adherents and therefore it is rather leftist simulacra – proxies for or enactments of leftism in non-economic contexts that satisfy the same basic instincts and moral impulses – that have exercised most influence in the modern west.
     
    Marxism started out as an economic theory but wherever anyone tried to put it into practice it was a total disaster and led not only to poverty but to totalitarianism. Eventually even western leftists could see this and could no longer advocate economic Marxism and attract anyone (although "socialism" is having a comeback now). So they had to come up with a non-economic Marxism instead, which is kind of like a non-Jesus Christianity.

    “Marxism started out as an economic theory”

    ??!??

    Piteous Jay you’re a doofus.

    Please go back to lecturing us on the finer points of cow-wrestling in Western Australia, and how the Perth style of the 1940s differs from the Queensland Buckaroos from the 1970s. For the love of humanity.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    OK, I'll bite. Das Kapital is NOT an economic theory?
  147. @Thatgirl
    Bloom was right, of course, about the abysmal writing in Harry Potter. Bloom probably didn’t point out one more of the many failings of that series which is the fictional sport of “quidditch,” a game invented by someone who has clearly never played, or even watched, any sports in her life.

    In quidditch, each “goal” scores one point, but if one team captures the other team’s magic ball, it is worth something like 100 points, essentially making all the other goals worthless.

    As one who has suffered through watching every movie in the series with my kid, and tried to read the books, this game drives me batty, especially since the fans of the series seem to think Rowling’s creation of this game is such a stroke of brilliance.

    Reading mediocre Rowling makes Beverly Cleary seem like Shakespeare by comparison.

  148. @Jack D

    In general I think leftist ideology makes very tall demands of its adherents and therefore it is rather leftist simulacra – proxies for or enactments of leftism in non-economic contexts that satisfy the same basic instincts and moral impulses – that have exercised most influence in the modern west.
     
    Marxism started out as an economic theory but wherever anyone tried to put it into practice it was a total disaster and led not only to poverty but to totalitarianism. Eventually even western leftists could see this and could no longer advocate economic Marxism and attract anyone (although "socialism" is having a comeback now). So they had to come up with a non-economic Marxism instead, which is kind of like a non-Jesus Christianity.

    “a non-Jesus Christianity”

    Akin to Universalism/Unitarianism or Reformed Judaism.

  149. Eventually even western leftists could see this and could no longer advocate economic Marxism and attract anyone (although “socialism” is having a comeback now). So they had to come up with a non-economic Marxism instead, which is kind of like a non-Jesus Christianity.

    Democratic socialism or social democracy is more pragmatic and supports economic and social interventions to promote social justice within the framework of a capitalist mixed economy.

    Most people would support this to some extent, but the devil is always in the details and execution.

    For example, should we have prisons run by private companies for profit?

    On the surface, this sounds like a bad thing, but if the prison company is just a contractor providing services parallel to services provided by state and federal governments, where the same policies and procedures are required and the staff have to have the same training and qualifications as state or federal employees, then the situation is much murkier, especially when private company and state employees and managers are quite fluid in switching jobs between the private and public sectors.

    It may also be much more convenient and cost effective for the taxpayer to have a private company providing services, than having the same services provided by state or federal employees IF the private company can make a profit and provide the service for less money without any fall in standards. Or part of the service might be contracted out, for example a prison is run by the state, but the medical services within the prison are provided by a contractor.

    On the other hand, if the private companies take their profits and use that money to lobby (bribe) legislators to enact laws that will lead to more people being in prison, or to make it mandatory that inmates receive additional vaccinations, or that prisons treat medical conditions that were previously not treated, most people would see that as going beyond their remit. I see that California is in the process of banning privately operated prisons altogether.

    In the 1980’s Margaret Thatcher swept to power in the United Kingdom with a promise to privatize many nationalized industries to improve efficiency, but this did not necessarily work. Most people agreed that the standard of cleanliness in National Health Service hospitals could be improved, but after the cleaning services became privatized, it became apparent that the hospitals were no cleaner, and that the same employees were still cleaning the hospitals with the same mops and squeegees, but the contractors were making a profit by providing less benefits and retirement pensions to those employees.

    So there was no overall benefit to the taxpayer and the population at large. It was all a zero sum game.

    Obamacare made health insurance mandatory, but allowed the insurance companies to keep 20% of premiums received for administration costs and profits, whereas Medicare has administrative costs of only 2%. This seems a prima facie case where leaving health insurance to market forces is not cost effective for the general population and it would be better for Medicare to run health care plans for both employees and independently insured people and to hire insurance company employees to administer them.

    In the end most political arguments in industrialized nations come down to finding the optimum point on a sliding scale to provide the most benefit to the most people.

    • Replies: @Jack D
    I agree that all modern economies are mixed economies to one degree or another. Victorian England was strictly capitalist so their doctrine required that the Irish starve - we don't do that anymore.

    But degree matters. A place that is 80% socialist/ 20% capitalist is very different that one that is 20/80.

    However, Marxist are different than democratic socialists. Marx required that ALL of the means of production would have to be collectively owned. He understand that this could only be achieved by means of dictatorship. He anticipated world revolution so there could be no escape but since that never happened, a Marxist dictatorship also has to be a prison.
  150. @Ibound1
    The decline in overall IQ will kill Shakespeare study in the US. If everyone doesn’t appreciate Shakespeare, then Shakespeare will have to go. They will disguise this with the normal multi-culti “we need art that speaks to the student” mumbo jumbo.

    The decline in overall IQ will kill Shakespeare study in the US. If everyone doesn’t appreciate Shakespeare, then Shakespeare will have to go.

    This is wrong and backwards (and ridiculous).

    Shakespeare was never meant to be highbrow stuff. It was originally meant to be common theater that everyone could appreciate. Whereas the academic jargon and recherche ideas of critical studies really do require an intellectual strain and are inaccessible to most.

    It is actually quite tragic (pun intended) that people like Bloom have succeeded in converting Shakespeare from a universal possession intto an academic merit badge. In doing so, they have brought about the very condition they now deplore. They just couldn’t stomach the thought of the masses pawing at their precious texts with their grubby hands, so they so sharpened and harshened the experience that few would ever want to endure it. Then they turned around and complained that more people weren’t learning Shakespeare.

    This is like the prima ballerina scoffing at the people for being out of shape and ungraceful, and wondering why more of them don’t come to the ballet.

    • Replies: @keypusher
    Shakespeare is available for free all over the internet, along with helpful things like "No Fear Shakespeare" that put a common-English semi-translation next to his original words, videos of his plays, annotated versions of the sonnets, etc. Shakespeare has never been more accessible than he is right now.

    Don't give professors more attention than they're worth.
    , @Anonymous

    It was originally meant to be common theater that everyone could appreciate.
     
    But the common man back has limited access to art and theater.

    Also, even if Shakespeare didn't mean to be 'highbrow' in the cultural sense, his insights and expressions were such that they were destined to be appreciated as High Art.
  151. @Jack D

    In general I think leftist ideology makes very tall demands of its adherents and therefore it is rather leftist simulacra – proxies for or enactments of leftism in non-economic contexts that satisfy the same basic instincts and moral impulses – that have exercised most influence in the modern west.
     
    Marxism started out as an economic theory but wherever anyone tried to put it into practice it was a total disaster and led not only to poverty but to totalitarianism. Eventually even western leftists could see this and could no longer advocate economic Marxism and attract anyone (although "socialism" is having a comeback now). So they had to come up with a non-economic Marxism instead, which is kind of like a non-Jesus Christianity.

    Right, I had in mind more the personal context of the leftist English professor, who could either give up his coveted tenure-track appointment to bask in ideological purity, or find some way to square leftism with his rank bourgeois careerist pursuits. This is the circle that I think Marcuse and the New Left were trying to square (also they found the proletariat culturally and politically distasteful). And the strange attraction/mismatch between bourgeois types and leftism is why these New Left-style displacements keep happening, with the result that leftism as a force is most active in the cultural sphere.
    Disillusionment with Marxist experiments abroad was naturally a precondition for this mess.

    • Replies: @Anonymous

    This is the circle that I think Marcuse and the New Left were trying to square (also they found the proletariat culturally and politically distasteful). And the strange attraction/mismatch between bourgeois types and leftism is why these New Left-style displacements keep happening, with the result that leftism as a force is most active in the cultural sphere.
     
    I wonder how important the Franksters really were. Maybe it was just pop culture, something which many Franksters opposed. As libs and cons both grew up with rock culture, everything changed. Even Ann Coulter was into the Grateful Dead, and even most cons disagreed with Allan Bloom about the Rolling Stones. Kevin Michael Grace is a catholic con but he loves punk music culture. And libs soaked it up too.

    Take BONNIE AND CLYDE. It signaled a huge cultural shift on the Left. Earlier, leftists had written about gangster movies and even lauded some of them. But, they kept a critical and ideological distance. Gangsters were not good guys. They were parasites of capitalism. Or even if certain criminals were rebels of a sort, their way was misguided.
    But with BONNIE AND CLYDE, many leftists not only cheered the violence wholeheartedly but even saw the criminals as REVOLUTIONARIES. Pop culture has that effect. It weakens and washes away critical distance.

    It's like the Julie Hagerty character in LOST IN AMERICA who says she just couldn't stop at the roulette table because the excitement of the game and crowd dissolved her senses. When the 'conservative' party in the US has a casino mogul as the #1 contributor, there is something wrong all around. Visceralism took over the culture.

    At 8:30 in the video:

    https://siskelebert.org/?p=5151
  152. We live in a dark age – Kali Yuga.

    In the Dark Ages of Western Europe (I’m only guessing – 600 AD to 1500 AD) the best stories, poems, philosophies of the Classical ages were only preserved by Catholic Christian monks – thank god for them.

    M’thinks it’s time for those of us who know, those of us who care to start building fortified monestaries here in North America.

    I was so bored this Saturday I turned on the Notre Dame vs USC football game. There were official Notre Dame University adverts showing modern dressed women Notre Dame students being exposed to multi perspectives like Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique”.

    This was obvious virtue signaling that today’s Notre Dame is PC, multi cult, Liberation Theology in line with that #*$&@ CINO (Catholic in Name Only) Pope Francis. The City of South Bend Indiana’s mayor is an out of the closet homosexual now running for Demorat President on a campaign to take away the tax exempt status of any college or university that opposes homosexual marriage equality.

    OK – we’re in a dark age, our kinsmen the higher caste Hindus called it:

    Kali Yuga.

    Please think and act accordingly.

    • Replies: @Anonymous

    We live in a dark age – Kali Yuga.
     
    More like the Spark Age. Everything is connected electronically, and it's like we're living inside a pinball machine or slot machine. People not only go to Las Vegas but it has entered our minds with endless sensory stimulation.

    But spark is not the light. It's like moths and insects mistaking electric light for daylight.
    , @Alden
    The Notre Dame students grandmothers and great grandmothers read Betty Friedan. ND shouldn’t be bragging that their students are reading a book about 60 years old.

    To be current, ND student health should offer trans gender surgery and classes in behaving like the opposite sex. Does ND have a medical school? . The med students could do the surgery. They could offer a whole major on transitioning. An entire quarter so girls can learn about shaving, beards mustaches and baldness.

    Transgender women or men who think they are women are now bitching that they are deprived of the joys of menstruation.

    My personal cynical opinion about transgenders. For the last 50 years, women, especially lesbians, have had all the advantages. Transgenderism is a deep dark plot by heterosexual men to grab back their 14th amendment rights. I hope they succeed.

    Just as green electricity is a plot by the electrical industry to make money. And solar panels are a plot by the power company to force the customers to generate electricity which the power company sells back to them.

    Transgenderism is a plot to restore 14th amendment rights to men.
  153. Re: Nobel Prize in Literature

    Even without the Nobel Prize, Poland’s Olga Tokarczuk was already doing very
    well financially. But with the prize her books rocketed to 100-300 ranks at the
    Amazon. She is a feminist, an environmentalist, and often employs magical realism
    along with a mythical tone in her writings. Her readers love it. For example, she is
    very popular in Germany, a big market. Her magnum opus, The Books of Jacob,
    a 900-page tome, will be published in English in March. I can see her becoming
    a darling of the academia, with hundreds of Master’s theses and doctoral
    dissertations being devoted to her works. At 57 she still has a few books in her,
    so who knows, she may eventually outsell Stanislaw Lem, Polish sci-fi writer
    who was enormously popular around the world, but perhaps less so in the
    United States.

    This brings up the question of who is the world’s wealthiest author. Is it
    J.K. Rowling or David Icke? The latter will not be mentioned in the
    American media but despite that I heard he was incredibly wealthy.

    • Replies: @Anon 2
    Re: David Icke net worth

    One Internet site says he is worth $500,000 which sounds like a joke.
    Another site claims he is worth hundreds of millions, which also sounds
    improbable.

    J.K. Rowling continues to make $80-90 million a year, and is now worth
    $1 billion.
  154. @slumber_j
    You make a lot of sense. But this comment of Steve Sailer's is right--or at least it's right about what dissuaded me from pursuing an undergraduate major in English in the mid-80s:

    So by insisting upon the requirement the literature teachers be conversant in an ugly, graceless vocabulary of “theory,” you can drive away many people who would love to teach students about the most beautiful writing of history.
     

    They were atrocious scholars, with an obnoxious and childish penchant for hate-reading the western canon. They kept sensible people away from the study of literature for a solid generation, maybe two. The result is that the field is still full of lunatics even as the Theory that selected for them is now largely moribund.

  155. @Anon 2
    Re: Nobel Prize in Literature

    Even without the Nobel Prize, Poland’s Olga Tokarczuk was already doing very
    well financially. But with the prize her books rocketed to 100-300 ranks at the
    Amazon. She is a feminist, an environmentalist, and often employs magical realism
    along with a mythical tone in her writings. Her readers love it. For example, she is
    very popular in Germany, a big market. Her magnum opus, The Books of Jacob,
    a 900-page tome, will be published in English in March. I can see her becoming
    a darling of the academia, with hundreds of Master’s theses and doctoral
    dissertations being devoted to her works. At 57 she still has a few books in her,
    so who knows, she may eventually outsell Stanislaw Lem, Polish sci-fi writer
    who was enormously popular around the world, but perhaps less so in the
    United States.

    This brings up the question of who is the world’s wealthiest author. Is it
    J.K. Rowling or David Icke? The latter will not be mentioned in the
    American media but despite that I heard he was incredibly wealthy.

    Re: David Icke net worth

    One Internet site says he is worth $500,000 which sounds like a joke.
    Another site claims he is worth hundreds of millions, which also sounds
    improbable.

    J.K. Rowling continues to make $80-90 million a year, and is now worth
    $1 billion.

  156. @Ibound1
    The decline in overall IQ will kill Shakespeare study in the US. If everyone doesn’t appreciate Shakespeare, then Shakespeare will have to go. They will disguise this with the normal multi-culti “we need art that speaks to the student” mumbo jumbo.

    Shakespeare wrote for the pit as much as the box. If he leaves the scene for a generation or two it will be the envy of overpromoted snobs responsible not IQ levels high or low.

    • Replies: @Ibound1
    That he wrote for the pit is only an indication of how far we have fallen.
    , @nebulafox
    You can find graffiti about the Aeneid in some of the old toilets in Pompeii, from what I hear.

    The problem is not that information is available: I deeply believe that it is ultimately a good thing if people know more, not less, regardless of their social station. The problem is that it is not truly being used. There's nothing sadder than a book on a shelf, gathering never being read, never read: almost like an abandoned, neglected young lady, whose femininity is not appreciated.

  157. @eugyppius

    My suspicion was that much of the popularity of French Theory was due to English department academics trying to erect severe barriers to entry to their profession. Tenure track English professors are particularly in danger of competition from amateur adjunct professors who love great literature for being great literature: e.g., bright empty nest housewives, retired advertising copywriters, and the like. So by insisting upon the requirement the literature teachers be conversant in an ugly, graceless vocabulary of “theory,” you can drive away many people who would love to teach students about the most beautiful writing of history.

     

    Disagree a little bit here.

    For one, professors in all fields already have powerful cartel protections. As a rule, without approval from the community of scholars (indicated by the PhD), you can't teach. In the humanities and social sciences at least you also face a far higher barrier to anyone taking your ideas seriously, whatever their merits. These protections go back many centuries and indicate a longstanding insecurity. It is not merely English professors who are vulnerable to the expertise of dedicated autodidacts and amateurs. History (which never saw a full-blown theory incursion) is another tree blooming with low-hanging fruit, as are a great part of the natural sciences.

    The theory drive was already in its senescence when I was at grad school, and to be honest these days I look back on the shallow postmodernist girls (the ones I knew were always girls) with nostalgia. How much better and smarter they were than the race theorists and the queer theorists and the thing theorists and god knows what else. But they also paved the way for the troglodytes of the present , indeed they have done nothing but hire them and approve their daft dissertations with depressing regularity, so they are just as evil.

    As I see it, critical theory happened for these reasons:

    1) It allowed an increasingly leftist group of literary scholars, all of whom were saddled with a creeping shame over their comfortable bourgeois professorial appointments, to enact some simulacrum of leftism in their scholarship. This was ideologically acceptable anyway because the New Left was busy casting the proletariat overboard (they were too reactionary) and scheming about how the revolution would be accomplished within the academy or something ridiculous like that. In general I think leftist ideology makes very tall demands of its adherents and therefore it is rather leftist simulacra - proxies for or enactments of leftism in non-economic contexts that satisfy the same basic instincts and moral impulses - that have exercised most influence in the modern west.

    2) Before litcrit, scholars of literature had to subordinate themselves to the texts that they studied. You see this in Bloom, who is always railing about what a genius somebody like Shakespeare was. Well, our English professor asks herself, isn't she worth anything? Must her efforts always be footnoted to the scribblings of authors long dead? Here I think it's especially important that litcrit took off just as women began their rise in the academy, and that many of its early proponents were women and gay men. It places the scholar above the literature, but in a moral sense. The English professor can now lecture Defoe or whoever for his moral failings as a racist colonialist and enjoy superiority. The need to level up on the moral plane specifically strikes me as especially feminine. A similar impatience with always playing second fiddle might have manifested itself much differently in a more masculinized academy, but who knows.

    3) Here's where I kind of agree with Sailer, but with a different accent: I think scholars of modern English literature (those who first caught the theory virus) are kind of boxed in intellectually. What is it that they do, exactly? The History Department down the hall has a lock on the broader world that produced the works they study, so they can't do much with context or reception. And unlike medievalists or classicists, their works are written in modern languages and were printed mostly under the aegis of their authors. So there is no philological angle. One thing to do would be to canonize texts full of arcana that require explanation, and here the modernists cooperated e.g. with Joyce. Another thing to do would be to build some kind of broader theory of literature and society or literature and meaning, a proprietary method of criticism and interpretation. Whatever this was to be, it had to stay out of the way of Philosophy departments and so forth. And so they ended up with this politicized textualized paraphilosophical critical system of meaning that they could apply to the canon at will and without any interference.

    4) Building a little on 3), illuminating the greatness of great works - the stock in trade of people like Bloom - is a somewhat shallow project at the end of the day. I'm not deeply versed in older waves of scholarship coming out of English departments, but another thing they would do is read the author's biography against his works and read his themes and preoccupations in light of his life events. That is also an exercise of limited value. And theory wasn't totally bereft of ideas. (To see that you need only compare it to Crenshaw's intersectionality theory, which truly is empty.) Contemplating things like the nature of meaning and its locus strike us as tiresome, because we have heard about it so much, but to some lit profs in the 1970s these questions seemed fresh and new. That they had been asked before in more serious contexts and were merely being repeated in careless ramblings by a bunch of French intellectual frauds was of course another matter.

    I’m not deeply versed in older waves of scholarship coming out of English departments, but another thing they would do is read the author’s biography against his works and read his themes and preoccupations in light of his life events. That is also an exercise of limited value.

    Well, everything is ultimately of limited value. But putting a literary work in the context of the author’s life and times, if done well, is one of the most illuminating things you can do to give someone a deeper feel for a work of literature or a specific author’s work. Historical context is hugely important, and today’s students especially know bupkiss about history. It can even inform a work’s symbolism (e.g. the color white is generally associated with evil in Herman Melville. Well guess what, his father died as a result of getting stuck in a snow storm. That single factoid is more interesting than fifty volumes of crit theory.)

    There is also still a great deal of hard-slogging work available in literature departments. There are major and minor authors aplenty about whom we know little — Shakespeare being one. There are still key pieces of information waiting to be found in archives, private collections, etc., but that takes effort. It’s much easier to just put Shakespeare into your grievance meat grinder and come out with the usual sausage.

    Now about this quote from Steve:

    So by insisting upon the requirement the literature teachers be conversant in an ugly, graceless vocabulary of “theory,” you can drive away many people who would love to teach students about the most beautiful writing of history.

    Yes, but you miss the more important point. What theory and grievance has done is not just discourage teachers, it’s discouraged students. Who wants to sit through multiple years of graduate school churning out tiresome, paint-by-numbers grievance term papers or listening to one professor after another saying the same damn thing. The last thing literature departments care about is the love of literature.

    And this is the ultimate own-goal by the English professoriat. They made their own discipline so mind-numbingly dull (even offensive to many people) that they’ve chased away their own audience. The end result is far fewer tenure level positions and far fewer English teaching positions beyond English 101 and Basic Comp.

    Like typical Leftists, they’ve eaten their own children for the sake of virtue signalling.

    • Replies: @eugyppius

    But putting a literary work in the context of the author’s life and times, if done well, is one of the most illuminating things you can do to give someone a deeper feel for a work of literature or a specific author’s work.
     
    I had in mind something a little more stifling but the new historicism is at least an improvement on the litcrit it grew out of. Simple historical commentary and annotation will alas get you nowhere in lit departments.

    There is also still a great deal of hard-slogging work available in literature departments. There are major and minor authors aplenty about whom we know little — Shakespeare being one. There are still key pieces of information waiting to be found in archives, private collections, etc., but that takes effort. It’s much easier to just put Shakespeare into your grievance meat grinder and come out with the usual sausage.
     
    The problem for emerging English PhDs is they have to produce a dissertation that establishes them within a recognized subfield and advertises their ability to teach specific canonical authors/recognized extracanonical brownpeople add-ons. Then they end up as professors with...very standard canonical/brownpeople studies teaching obligations and emerging English PhDs among their students who have to be guided in the same direction. So you can do new work on new stuff but the gravitational pull is still to the canon or, depending on your job, to those extracanonical authors that define the new racialized/postcolonial subfields.

    What theory and grievance has done is not just discourage teachers, it’s discouraged students.
     
    To be fair, it has discouraged one sort of student but encouraged another. Which is even worse.

    And this is the ultimate own-goal by the English professoriat. They made their own discipline so mind-numbingly dull (even offensive to many people) that they’ve chased away their own audience. The end result is far fewer tenure level positions and far fewer English teaching positions beyond English 101 and Basic Comp.
     
    Well they've hurt themselves undeniably, but it's not clear to me that English in particular is losing all that many tenured positions. I could be wrong but at my old school and the others I knew they were sailing along fine. Some nontrivial percentage of those writing seminars have to be taught by standing faculty. What had happened is that other, less central languages/fields ended up buying into Theory and getting the axe instead. Also of course the broader proliferation of this and other lunacies has probably for several generations (if not forever) seriously damaged the credibility of the humanities which is now a running joke to everyone except members of the MLA (and maybe also to some of them).
  158. @Jack D
    Feynman and von Neumann did science and math so they are tough to disagree with, but Bloom's work dealt with culture. As we all know, Jews are Cultural Marxists so being very bright only makes them more destructive.

    You admire Bloom not just because he was very bright but also because you agree with his positions. As usual, I agree with Bloom about Eliot and Pound. Eliot was a lightweight (I hate cats) and Pound was nuts, or even worse he really wasn't nuts and meant what he said when he became the Tokyo Rose of Fascist Italy.

    Pound was nuts, or even worse he really wasn’t nuts and meant what he said when he became the Tokyo Rose of Fascist Italy.

    Politically, Pound was pretty much correct about everything.

    • Replies: @Ministry of Tongues
    With the rise to dominance of China over the self-destructing West, you could even say he was right about Confucius.
  159. Re: Literary Canon

    How quickly they forget! Henry Miller – prolific author of Tropic of Cancer,
    Tropic of Capricorn, Quiet Days in Clichy, The Air-Conditioned Nightmare,
    and many others – frequently mentioned as a Nobel Prize candidate in
    the 1960s, is now almost completely forgotten, at least in the U.S.
    After the feminists went after him in the ‘70s, partly because of his
    liberal use of the c word (people said he looked like an accountant
    but he swore like a sailor), he never recovered, and is now not to be
    mentioned in polite company. Ironically, Anaïs Nin, his lover in Paris
    in the 1930s, became a darling of the feminists, and in the ‘70s or ‘80s
    you couldn’t visit an American bookstore without seeing Delta of
    Venus, her collection of female erotica, prominently displayed
    near the front.

    Things are different in France though. Each time I’m in
    Paris I try to visit Gibert Joseph, perhaps the largest bookstore in
    the Latin Quarter, partly to see if Henry Miller’s books are still on
    display. And they sure are, practically all of them, both in English
    and in French. European women, who are his main readers, are not
    bothered by little trivia like the c word.

  160. @Desiderius
    Shakespeare wrote for the pit as much as the box. If he leaves the scene for a generation or two it will be the envy of overpromoted snobs responsible not IQ levels high or low.

    That he wrote for the pit is only an indication of how far we have fallen.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    What are you talking about? He wrote for the pit to sell tickets so he could eat half a millennium ago. That has nothing to do with your own personal sky falling.

    I guarandamntee you the brutes in that pit had very little in the way of IQ. Likewise our brutes would get the same kick today out of Billy Shaxper if they ever got a peek at the cheeky bastard’s work.

  161. @gregor
    I left a very similar reply without noticing your post. Mormons and Jews are interesting to compare and contrast. One thing though (contra Bloom) is that at present Mormonism is still fundamentally credal and there’s no “reform” version like Judaism. And it’s difficult to see such a thing arising any time soon given that it’s very centralized and Salt Lake runs a pretty tight ship (excommunication, etc). Whether intentional or not, Mormonism is set up to pretty much force out people who aren’t serious. And (again contra Bloom) my impression is that lapsed members often don’t retain much secular Mormon identity, certainly nothing like the phenomenon of the secular Jew.

    Somewhat related: I wonder if there might be a market for a “fake” religion for conservatives. That is to say something that’s theologically lenient and consistent with modern science but simultaneously traditional and non-degenerate. Like Episcopalian but not completely gay.

    ” I wonder if there might be a market for a “fake” religion for conservatives. That is to say something that’s theologically lenient and consistent with modern science but simultaneously traditional and non-degenerate.”

    Methodist sounds pretty close.

  162. @YetAnotherAnon
    Not sure Lovecraft was a "great" writer, but he created several unique worlds - is there anyone quite like him?

    "West of Arkham the hills rise wild, and there are valleys with deep woods that no axe has ever cut. There are dark narrow glens where the trees slope fantastically, and where thin brooklets trickle without ever having caught the glint of sunlight. On the gentler slopes there are farms, ancient and rocky, with squat, moss-coated cottages brooding eternally over old New England secrets in the lee of great ledges..."
     
    It probably helps to discover him when you're 12 or 13, and learning new words like 'eldritch'.

    "Around the feeble fires dark forms were dancing, and Carter was curious as to what manner of beings they might be; for no healthy folk have ever been to Leng, and the place is known only by its fires and stone huts as seen from afar. Very slowly and awkwardly did those forms leap, and with an insane twisting and bending not good to behold..."
     

    My personal favorite passage in HPL’s work:

    There was a mind from the planet we know as Venus, which would live incalculable epochs to come, and one from an outer moon of Jupiter six million years in the past. Of earthly minds there were some from the winged, star-headed, half-vegetable race of palaeogean Antarctica; one from the reptile people of fabled Valusia; three from the furry pre-human Hyperborean worshippers of Tsathoggua; one from the wholly abominable Tcho-Tchos; two from the arachnid denizens of earth’s last age; five from the hardy coleopterous species immediately following mankind, to which the Great Race was some day to transfer its keenest minds en masse in the face of horrible peril; and several from different branches of humanity.

    I talked with the mind of Yiang-Li, a philosopher from the cruel empire of Tsan-Chan, which is to come in A.D. 5000; with that of a general of the great-headed brown people who held South Africa in B.C. 50,000; with that of a twelfth-century Florentine monk named Bartolomeo Corsi; with that of a king of Lomar who had ruled that terrible polar land 100,000 years before the squat, yellow Inutos came from the west to engulf it; with that of Nug-Soth, a magician of the dark conquerors of A.D. 16,000; with that of a Roman named Titus Sempronius Blaesus, who had been a quaestor in Sulla’s time; with that of Khephnes, an Egyptian of the 14th Dynasty who told me the hideous secret of Nyarlathotep; with that of a priest of Atlantis’ middle kingdom; with that of a Suffolk gentleman of Cromwell’s day, James Woodville; with that of a court astronomer of pre-Inca Peru; with that of the Australian physicist Nevil Kingston-Brown, who will die in A.D. 2518; with that of an archimage of vanished Yhe in the Pacific; with that of Theodotides, a Graeco-Bactrian official of B.C. 200; with that of an aged Frenchman of Louis XIII’s time named Pierre-Louis Montmagny; with that of Crom-Ya, a Cimmerian chieftain of B.C. 15,000; and with so many others that my brain cannot hold the shocking secrets and dizzying marvels I learned from them.

    The Shadow Out of Time

    • Replies: @Clifford Brown
    If you cannot enjoy this, I do not want to know you.
  163. @Jack D

    In general I think leftist ideology makes very tall demands of its adherents and therefore it is rather leftist simulacra – proxies for or enactments of leftism in non-economic contexts that satisfy the same basic instincts and moral impulses – that have exercised most influence in the modern west.
     
    Marxism started out as an economic theory but wherever anyone tried to put it into practice it was a total disaster and led not only to poverty but to totalitarianism. Eventually even western leftists could see this and could no longer advocate economic Marxism and attract anyone (although "socialism" is having a comeback now). So they had to come up with a non-economic Marxism instead, which is kind of like a non-Jesus Christianity.

    I think that’s part of it, but I think what advancedatheist mentioned is also true: there’s just a complete lack of intellectual curiosity or originality. (Old-fashioned Marxists, for all their myriad-and often horrific-flaws mostly would have been appalled at the idea of trashing classical/European philosophy, literature, and history, among many other things: such as the embracing of woke capital.) Since information is everywhere and the price of getting has been cheapened, the fight for actual intellectual gains takes a more conscious effort, and the age of the Internet has radically decreased the average attention span. I’m making a conscious effort to regain the ability to learn right now: most worthwhile thing I’ve done in life, but it is no joke.

    They aren’t the first group of aspiring revolutionaries to be made and influenced by a culture they openly despise, but they are probably the first to be this utterly unaware of it, and the first to more or less copy-and-paste the underlying structure of what they see around them. In a way, the God-less Christianity is scarier than previous totalitarian movements precisely because of its claims to totality, because in their thinking, no human being is truly irredeemable to a greater scale than previous ideologies: and thus everybody will be reached.

    Not that this diminished intellectual incapacity is limited to the Left in American politics: who needs Montesquieu or Burke when you got Hannity, right? But at least there’s some push-back on the Right against the aggressive hostility to reality of the 21st Century GOP, such as this blog, some vestige of independent, empirical thinking, and there’s no insistent demand that everybody share the same mode of thinking. I cannot see any analogue to this with the Democrats, perhaps because despite practical political power wielded by the GOP, they’ve so utterly dominated the cultural apparatus. They’ve forgotten that other world-views exist, because as far as they are concerned, they don’t.

  164. @sb
    Isn't Lovecraft a major influence of Michel Houellebecq's ?

    Isn’t Lovecraft a major influence of Michel Houellebecq’s ?

    Major enough that Houellebecq wrote a book about HPL:

    H. P. Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life

    In this early published work (which he calls his “first novel”), Houellebecq describes having discovered Lovecraft as a teenager and being struck by how each story was, as he describes, “an open slice of howling fear.” He describes a fascination with Lovecraft’s anti-modernity,[1] what he supposes is Lovecraft’s profound hatred of life and philosophical denial of the real world; Houellebecq notes that his works include “not a single allusion to two of the realities to which we generally ascribe great importance: sex and money.” He posits Lovecraft as an American existentialist for whom both life and death are meaningless. He also praises what he sees as Lovecraft’s rejection of democracy and progressivism.[2]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H._P._Lovecraft:_Against_the_World,_Against_Life

  165. Anonymous[832] • Disclaimer says:

    Well, I’m sure that can be arranged… It wouldn’t be an unz.com comment thread without some discussion of ethnic animus and resentment.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/22/books/review/book-review-the-anatomy-of-influence-by-harold-bloom.html

    One yearns also for lengthier exposition of Bloom’s first years at Yale in the 1950s, his memories of that time recently prompted, he says, when his wife brought home the DVD of “The Good Shepherd,” Robert De Niro’s portrait of the C.I.A., its early scenes set among the Gothic towers of Yale, “that quasi university centered on the undergraduates of Skull and Bones.” To Bloom, first as a grad student and then a young professor, these sons of the patriciate “seemed the enemy, if only because they assumed they were the United States and Yale, while I was a visitor,” via the Bronx High School of Science and a scholarship to Cornell, where he had been an undergraduate prodigy….

    With Eliot enthroned as “the Vicar of Academies,” it was “no accident that the poets brought into favor by the New Criticism were Catholics or High Church Anglicans,” the young Bloom pointed out, or that

    “academic criticism of literature in our time became almost an affair of church wardens.

    ” So he wrote in “The Visionary Company,” his comprehensive study of the Romantics, published in 1961, its heroes the radical dissenters Blake and Shelley.

    Though this early book challenged the supremacy of “Neo-Christianity,” it wasn’t especially unusual in its critical approach…

    Yes, within living memory, the Yale English department had conservative and Catholic tendencies. Fortunately, Bloom and his followers got rid of all that…

    In The Visionary Company, he lauds the Romantics for the same reason that people love Emerson and transgenderism: no God, no nature, no law, no nothing, can be permitted to stand in the way of the self-actualizing, self-creating will, and the object of its desire. Whatever I want or think or feel, is right.

    https://books.google.com/books?id=jYa4akW01CwC&lpg=PR18&ots=PSCVggSJDM%E2%80%9D&pg=PR18#v=onepage&q&f=false

  166. @Clifford Brown
    Bloom was dismissive of Poe and King, so I had to wonder what his position was on my favorite American horror writer, H.P. Lovecraft. Bloom seems to at least respect Lovecraft. I like to think Bloom appreciated Lovecraft's sense of humor which is lacking in Poe and King.

    Poe no humor? I suggest his “Never Bet the Devil Your Head” as an example of humor. I would suggest Poe was a sophisticated fiction writer and theorist.

    I only know Bloom second-hand, but, as I recall, his disdain of commercial fiction shows up in his critiques of Tolkein. He seems to have missed the boat big time there.

    Anybody who says Shakespeare invented humanity is guilty of Bardolatry. Shakespeare gave us an amazing number of words and phrases. But, as I understand it, Bloom claimed Shakespeare was virtually without flaws. Checkout T. S. Eliot’s criticism of Hamlet, as an example, of Shakespeare’s grasp exceeding his reach.

    I have no patient for the school of resentment literary criticism, but it does help to not only view literature as art but steeped in the culture of the time. My Shakespeare professor made it clear that an Elizabethean steeped in contemporary ideas of theology and the nature of ghosts would see Hamlet differently than modern audiences would.

    • Replies: @syonredux

    Poe no humor? I suggest his “Never Bet the Devil Your Head” as an example of humor.
     
    I've always liked the bitingly satirical "The Man That Was Used Up." It's also interesting as an early example of Science Fiction (the eponymous man is what we would call a cyborg)

    http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/POE/used_up.html
  167. @Bardon Kaldian
    C-P on old Bloom:

    I’ve read 10 + Bloom’s books & he constantly harps on these authors: Shakespeare, Chaucer, Dante, Milton, Whitman, Tolstoy, Montaigne, Kafka, Freud, Samuel Johnson, Whitman, Dickens, Dickinson … George Eliot is lavishly praised for her philo-Semitism. Nathanael West is also his favorite.

    His fave authors not listed among those “narrowly canonical” are Swift, Richardson, Hart Crane & Wallace Stevens. Orwell, Camus, Garcia Marquez, …in his view overrated. O’Connor almost great, but her Catholicism annoys him. He openly hates Celine & especially P. Wyndham Lewis.

    He grudgingly admits Dostoevsky’s greatness, but always finds a way to marginalize him (bad antisemite, bad). For instance, Bloom compiled a book of criticism on Tolstoy where he took a chapter from Steiner’s work “Tolstoy or Dostoevsky’”, but somehow “forgot” to include parts from Steiner where Steiner openly expresses the view that Dostoevsky is deeper & more significant writer than Tolstoy (or at least, more relevant).

    Bloom’s weaknesses are sometimes laughable. Just a few rambling associations….

    Bloom’s”theory” is that Shakespeare’s characters change because they overhear themselves. Actually, this is a dramatic device, not necessary for, say, novels. Of course that Shakespeare’s characters are more vivid & memorable than most of his predecessors’, but this has nothing to do with this purely technical artifice. And his Bardolatry is absurd – even when writing on Kafka, he has to mention Shake as a creator of “shamanic cosmos”. He is right in his claim that Conrad was central formative influence on Faulkner & Fitzgerald, but re Hemingway- wrong; also, he wrote on Milton basically “overhearing” himself about Shakespeare. Nothing new.

    Bloom got it right that the ending of Goethe’s “Faust” is “cultural appropriation” of Dante & Catholic mythology, but in a creative way. Kudos for that. His chapters on Dickinson & Dickens & Eliot are his personal projections. Not much insight.

    Anyway, I'd comment on some of his books..

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51OMXge-YFL._SX340_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Don't bother, a waste of time. True, there are some interesting personal details, be he mostly writes & quotes poems- not something very appealing.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51-bg5k6LRL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Read it, especially parts on novels & short stories (drama & poetry I haven't found of much interest)

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/410fXLkJk4L._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Chapters on Dante, Goethe, Johnson, Proust are great. Dickens, Whitman & Shakespeare- a mixed bag. Freud, Dickinson, Joyce, Beckett, Borges..either weird or worthless.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51%2BvYcXAHML._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Inflated nonsense, avoid it.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/5161NzVWP6L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Surprisingly readable, if you accept his weird Kabbalah scheme, a fun to read.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41pEH%2Bhmf1L._SY346_.jpg

    Good all-American book. Recommended.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41ahX-ERv4L._SX252_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Nonsense, but still funny.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51gm6QXGpSL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Surprise, surprise- good.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41nGuI-qT%2BL._SY346_.jpg

    He's wrong about virtually everything, but, if you want fun ....

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51m5b1vPS1L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Western Gnosis. Highly recommended. Also, thrashes New Age.

    Bloom on Dostoevsky:

    “Absorbing as Crime and Punishment is, it cannot be absolved of tendentiousness, which is Dostoevsky’s invariable flaw. He is a partisan, whose fierce perspective is always explicit in what he writes. His design upon us is to raise us, like Lazarus, from our own nihilism and skepticism, and then convert us to Orthodoxy. Writers as eminent as Chekhov and Nabokov have been unable to abide him; to them he was scarcely an artist, but a shrill would-be prophet. I myself, with each rereading, find Crime and Punishment an ordeal, dreadfully powerful but somewhat pernicious, almost as though it were Macbeth composed by Macbeth himself.”

    See, but that’s what makes Dostoevsky really good. It’s not that I always agree with him. I’m not religious. Nor am I Russian, so ultimately I’m not sure how much Dostoevsky himself would expect or want me to fully identify with him. He’s a consistent check on my own thinking, on the limits of rationality. I don’t think he’d be able to do that with a scholarly analysis, I don’t think he’d be… a psychologist, to the degree that he is, the only psychologist worth reading. When you are dealing with something as fundamentally irrational, tendentious, and fierce as a human being’s inner thoughts and desires, you’ll never truly impress anything on the heart of your reader if you aren’t afraid to take the plunge into that world.

    (This is what everybody gets wrong about the Grand Inquisitor’s story: Dostoevsky is not advocating Ivan’s perspective. He understands it, analyzes it, sympathizes with it in some respects, even shows the doubts he has himself when Shatov in Demons says that he “will” believe in God. But he’s not agreeing, and he’s not hypocritically pretending to be something he isn’t. It shows in his writing, that fundamental honesty. He’s still an Orthodox man who ultimately advocates an Orthodox argument. He isn’t upset about the lack of a rational, individual response, because he gives theological and communal ones instead.)

    • Replies: @MarzAat
    I'll ask the obvious question: why is a man with a photographic memory "rereading" anything?
  168. @Anonymous
    Wolf's account is one of the most ROFTL things I ever did read.

    She invited Prof Bloom for an evening of wine and poetry reading, her own. LOL. Her knuckleheaded self really thought he set aside his busy schedule out of a powerful urge to listen to her play with words.

    So, there they were, sitting side by side. Wolf reading her poems(LOL), and Bloom with his droopy sullen face summoning all his patience to remain still... until he finally had enough and put his hand on her thigh... whereupon she realized why he really came. He didn't come for her poetry. Her wine maybe and something else.

    And then, she went to the kitchen and...

    https://youtu.be/gCLfBlRTZe8?t=40

    Young Naomi was very fetching – I can see why the good professor was tempted. If her poetry’s like the rest of her writing his punishment came before his commission of the offence – in fact it may have been a desperate attempt to stop her reading but without insulting her poetry.

  169. @Desiderius
    Shakespeare wrote for the pit as much as the box. If he leaves the scene for a generation or two it will be the envy of overpromoted snobs responsible not IQ levels high or low.

    You can find graffiti about the Aeneid in some of the old toilets in Pompeii, from what I hear.

    The problem is not that information is available: I deeply believe that it is ultimately a good thing if people know more, not less, regardless of their social station. The problem is that it is not truly being used. There’s nothing sadder than a book on a shelf, gathering never being read, never read: almost like an abandoned, neglected young lady, whose femininity is not appreciated.

    • Replies: @Desiderius
    Our local Shakespeare Company got so popular they had to build a big new theater. I don’t see any indication he’s being neglected rather than suppressed by inferior talents who fear the comparison and should.
  170. @Jack D
    The question is not whether his Hebrew was better than his Latin. Probably it was since he was raised as an Orthodox Jew and would have learned to read Hebrew at around the same time he learned to read English (or even before) while Latin came later.

    The question is, was his Latin better than yours? I'll bet it was.

    We’ll never know.

  171. @donvonburg
    Mormonism has had several schisms, starting with the Reorganized LDS (now the Community of Christ), the Fundamentalist LDS, the Temple Lot, and a half dozen or more that have died out by now. The LDS mothership is on more or less speaking terms with the Community of Christ, who owns the original Kirtland temple, and to varying degrees or not at all with the others.

    Being an active member of the LDS church is demanding. You have to tithe and prove your tithe really is ten percent of your income to the bishop in an interview. You have to show compliance with the Word of Wisdom, and generally look, act, and smell like a Mormon ought to. You will be pressured to get more involved in this or that activity until most of the time you are not sleeping or at work you are doing something for the church.

    Most Mormons are not very spiritual and not very Bible literate by the standards of conventional Christianity. I personally believe that few Mormon authorities from bishop up really believe in much of Mormon theology. They are in it because they think Mormons have built an alternate and better society with good works-and in some ways, they have. Mormons have solid stable families that do well, and they have a non-government, non-coercive social safety net. No Mormon starves, no Mormon lacks medical care, no Mormon willing and able to work and of decent IQ and character stays underemployed. I admire that.

    They also are big into preparedness, with a food pantry, and many are into serious prepping. Mormons tend to be hunters and know firearms well-John Moses Browning was a Mormon, enough said.

    But the essence of Christianity is that salvation is not through works, it is by acceptance and faith of the finished work of Christ on the Cross and His resurrection. Mormons do not have that. They have doctrines that are unbiblical and bizarre, much of which are simply borrowed from Freemasonry, as are the original temple ceremonies and layout of the Temple. And the Book of Mormon is a simple work of dishonest fiction, concocted by Joseph Smith.

    Mormonism would have died with Smith, but for Brigham Young, who was ruthless, domineering, charismatic and intended to build a nation with himself as unchallengeable, absolute ruler. He didn't quite succeed at that, but he did leave a powerful, efficient, appealing organization.

    I find Mormonism fascinating on many levels, but its theology is, to put it bluntly, rotten.

    “Most Mormons are not very spiritual and not very Bible literate by the standards of conventional Christianity. I personally believe that few Mormon authorities from bishop up really believe in much of Mormon theology.”

    Your contention re: biblical literacy is not borne out by the Pew survey, where Latter-day Saints outscore Protestants and Catholics:
    https://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=50374273&itype=CMSID

    As for whether LDS leaders believe our theology, I really don’t know where you’re getting that. I suspect you conclude that because they are objectively intelligent people (the current President of the Church is a world-renowned heart surgeon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_M._Nelson), then they must not believe in it. From my interactions with them, I don’t believe this is the case at all.

    • Replies: @donvonburg

    As for whether LDS leaders believe our theology, I really don’t know where you’re getting that. I suspect you conclude that because they are objectively intelligent people (the current President of the Church is a world-renowned heart surgeon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_M._Nelson), then they must not believe in it. From my interactions with them, I don’t believe this is the case at all.
     
    Russell Nelson is a remarkable man, but he's also 95, and his signature move so far has not gone over well inside or outside the church. The LDS leadership was always something of a gerontocracy, but this carries things to an extreme.

    John Paul II made Catholic cardinals over 80 ineligible to vote for the pope, and Benedict stepped down when he felt he no longer he had the steam to do the job. I think those were moves consonant with biological reality in a world where our understanding of the world and the consequences of modern medicine are changing our lives on this earth.

    I can't, of course, know what anyone "really believes". I think that in general the LDS leadership has the advantage that since most are not paid professional clergy it keeps the careerists out, and the need to be married and have a family to hold most posts keeps them from the Catholic vice to an extent, but not perfectly.

    But I also know from observation and study that the Mormons tend to mostly recruit people that are squared away in the first place. Bible believing "fundamentalist" or "evangelical" Christianity has turned around the lives of a lot of people who were not squared away when they submitted to the will of God, and often never were. Not perfectly, of course, not in every case. If you're a trainwreck the Mormons don't want you and if you do get in you stay a trainwreck, from what I've seen.

    I was never a Mormon. I was raised Catholic and I quit Catholicism for several reasons but one was that many of its tenets were nowhere in the Bible and some seemed contradictory to me. I am not here to convert Catholics or Mormons or anyone else who is happy in their religion so long as that religion isn't damaging me or other people who want no part of it.

    Indeed I find the structures of both those organizations fascinating. (On the other hand Scientology is utterly without interest to me). I have many friends in both the LDS church and in other branches of the Latter Day Saint movement and I pray they will be given guidance on these issues, and I recognize that the LDS organization has done a lot of good things for a lot of people, materially and socially.
  172. @Kronos
    Today class we’ll be reading author so-and-so’s book “Licking Snow.” It details sexual hunger in a natural wilderness of scarcity. Snow is white, it’s tasteless, and it’s oppresses people with bitter cold. You can’t see cold, but it oppresses people all the same.

    https://thumbs-prod.si-cdn.com/qHEnImYmjD2z06cf2Nk9bJ7NckE=/420x240/https://public-media.si-cdn.com/filer/e2/91/e2916a24-0c6d-426a-8fba-018469c02083/terror_103_am_0131_0446-rt.jpg

    Word of warning – be sure to skip past the yellow chapter.

  173. @Thatgirl
    Bloom was right, of course, about the abysmal writing in Harry Potter. Bloom probably didn’t point out one more of the many failings of that series which is the fictional sport of “quidditch,” a game invented by someone who has clearly never played, or even watched, any sports in her life.

    In quidditch, each “goal” scores one point, but if one team captures the other team’s magic ball, it is worth something like 100 points, essentially making all the other goals worthless.

    As one who has suffered through watching every movie in the series with my kid, and tried to read the books, this game drives me batty, especially since the fans of the series seem to think Rowling’s creation of this game is such a stroke of brilliance.

    I only ever read the first Harry Potter book because in those days I read any book my children wanted to read. I found the book so ordinary. My wife asked me what it was about and I told her: They rewrote Bewitched for kids. Remind me not to become a literary agent. I would have predicted very low sales.

  174. @Anonymouse
    We learn that Prof. Bloom was teaching a class at Yale just last Thursday. Perhaps some kind commenter here can provide the title of that class from the 2019 Fall catalog of courses at Yale.

    https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2019/10/14/sterling-professor-harold-bloom-dies-at-89/

    At Yale, Bloom is teaching two Humanities classes for undergraduates this semester: “Shakespeare and the Canon: Histories, Comedies, and Poems” and “Poetic Influence from Shakespeare to Keats.” He taught his last class at Yale on October 10, 2019.

    Don’t know which of the two was his last.

  175. @The Germ Theory of Disease
    "Marxism started out as an economic theory"

    ??!??

    Piteous Jay you're a doofus.

    Please go back to lecturing us on the finer points of cow-wrestling in Western Australia, and how the Perth style of the 1940s differs from the Queensland Buckaroos from the 1970s. For the love of humanity.

    OK, I’ll bite. Das Kapital is NOT an economic theory?

  176. @anon

    Professor Bloom called himself “a monster” of reading; he said he could read, and absorb, a 400-page book in an hour. …

    Armed with a photographic memory, Professor Bloom could recite acres of poetry by heart — by his account, the whole of Shakespeare, Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” all of William Blake, the Hebraic Bible and Edmund Spenser’s monumental “The Fairie Queen.” …
     
    Ah, so he was a bullshitter, then?

    He was a BS artist. There is not any other kind of artist. Art is all about the freedom from our objective fate of being limited in or capabilities, aging and dying, and instead offers the promise of “infinite powers, possibilities, and potential.

    AS one obit has it “Harold Bloom wished to distance himself from culture war polemics, he has unapologetically practiced what Allan Bloom preached“. So philosophy is BS too.

  177. @Jonathan Mason

    Eventually even western leftists could see this and could no longer advocate economic Marxism and attract anyone (although “socialism” is having a comeback now). So they had to come up with a non-economic Marxism instead, which is kind of like a non-Jesus Christianity.
     
    Democratic socialism or social democracy is more pragmatic and supports economic and social interventions to promote social justice within the framework of a capitalist mixed economy.

    Most people would support this to some extent, but the devil is always in the details and execution.

    For example, should we have prisons run by private companies for profit?

    On the surface, this sounds like a bad thing, but if the prison company is just a contractor providing services parallel to services provided by state and federal governments, where the same policies and procedures are required and the staff have to have the same training and qualifications as state or federal employees, then the situation is much murkier, especially when private company and state employees and managers are quite fluid in switching jobs between the private and public sectors.

    It may also be much more convenient and cost effective for the taxpayer to have a private company providing services, than having the same services provided by state or federal employees IF the private company can make a profit and provide the service for less money without any fall in standards. Or part of the service might be contracted out, for example a prison is run by the state, but the medical services within the prison are provided by a contractor.

    On the other hand, if the private companies take their profits and use that money to lobby (bribe) legislators to enact laws that will lead to more people being in prison, or to make it mandatory that inmates receive additional vaccinations, or that prisons treat medical conditions that were previously not treated, most people would see that as going beyond their remit. I see that California is in the process of banning privately operated prisons altogether.

    In the 1980's Margaret Thatcher swept to power in the United Kingdom with a promise to privatize many nationalized industries to improve efficiency, but this did not necessarily work. Most people agreed that the standard of cleanliness in National Health Service hospitals could be improved, but after the cleaning services became privatized, it became apparent that the hospitals were no cleaner, and that the same employees were still cleaning the hospitals with the same mops and squeegees, but the contractors were making a profit by providing less benefits and retirement pensions to those employees.

    So there was no overall benefit to the taxpayer and the population at large. It was all a zero sum game.

    Obamacare made health insurance mandatory, but allowed the insurance companies to keep 20% of premiums received for administration costs and profits, whereas Medicare has administrative costs of only 2%. This seems a prima facie case where leaving health insurance to market forces is not cost effective for the general population and it would be better for Medicare to run health care plans for both employees and independently insured people and to hire insurance company employees to administer them.

    In the end most political arguments in industrialized nations come down to finding the optimum point on a sliding scale to provide the most benefit to the most people.

    I agree that all modern economies are mixed economies to one degree or another. Victorian England was strictly capitalist so their doctrine required that the Irish starve – we don’t do that anymore.

    But degree matters. A place that is 80% socialist/ 20% capitalist is very different that one that is 20/80.

    However, Marxist are different than democratic socialists. Marx required that ALL of the means of production would have to be collectively owned. He understand that this could only be achieved by means of dictatorship. He anticipated world revolution so there could be no escape but since that never happened, a Marxist dictatorship also has to be a prison.

  178. From a vaunted perch at Yale, he flew in the face of almost every trend in the literary criticism of his day. Chiefly he argued for the literary superiority of the Western giants like Shakespeare, Chaucer and Kafka — all of them white and male…

    Suddenly, perches at Yale become “vaunted” when occupied by the wrong people.

  179. @SFG
    I confused them, I admit.

    I remember reading 'The Closing of the American Mind' when I was...13? and wanting to be a conservative intellectual and go to Thomas Aquinas or St. John's (I had been reading National Review, OK?) and study The Great Tradition.

    Of course, I came to my senses--my folks didn't have that much money. I imagine some alternate universe version of me bought a bowtie and made himself insufferable for 4 years.

    St John’s: I went to the Santa Fe campus as a freshman when the place didn’t even have a senior class yet. It was perhaps the most expensive college in America then, and my father was not unhappy when I transferred to UC Berkeley after only one year. I loved the place, but wanted a better library, which I did find; better teachers I didn’t, but for a handful, like Slottman in history, and Craig in philosophy. St John’s lately ruined I have heard, by a president who adds insult to injury by descending from Teddy Roosevelt, and still being a pompous Leftist ass.

    Thomas Aquinas: I knew the founding families intimately, as well as two of the first professors, now semi-mythical figures. Unlike St John’s it is better than ever, but in an unsatisfying way: it turns out rather too many self-satisfied bigots who know quite a bit less than they think they do. But at least they are tuned in to the Divine.

    National Review: you were reading it too late. It ceased to be seriously conservative once Buckley realised that neo-Conservatism was suddenly the only game in town.

    Bow ties: strictly for pseuds, just as ascots are strictly for cads. But you know that.

  180. Marx required that ALL of the means of production would have to be collectively owned.

    Marx was a dreamer who had no practical experience of running a nation.

    He was a bit like Jesus who has no shortage of followers, but in his lifetime had no practical experience of running a major world religion or raising a family–hence his rather airy, but impractical suggestions on how one should live.

    At least Marx had children, several of whom died young.

    Moreover, Marx had no concept of how technological advances and scientific research would totally change the nature of the human predicament in the more advanced nations in the first hundred years after his death. He suffered from poverty, poor health, drank and smoked too much, and dreamed of a better future.

    A foggy day in London town
    Had me low
    Had me down
    I viewed the morning with much alarm
    The British Museum had lost it’s charm.

    How long I wonder
    Could this thing last
    But the age of miracles
    It hadn’t passed

  181. @Jack D
    Between good theology and good organization, good organization wins every time.

    (((Thou))) sayest.

  182. @gregor
    I left a very similar reply without noticing your post. Mormons and Jews are interesting to compare and contrast. One thing though (contra Bloom) is that at present Mormonism is still fundamentally credal and there’s no “reform” version like Judaism. And it’s difficult to see such a thing arising any time soon given that it’s very centralized and Salt Lake runs a pretty tight ship (excommunication, etc). Whether intentional or not, Mormonism is set up to pretty much force out people who aren’t serious. And (again contra Bloom) my impression is that lapsed members often don’t retain much secular Mormon identity, certainly nothing like the phenomenon of the secular Jew.

    Somewhat related: I wonder if there might be a market for a “fake” religion for conservatives. That is to say something that’s theologically lenient and consistent with modern science but simultaneously traditional and non-degenerate. Like Episcopalian but not completely gay.

    It has been in formation since 1965 and is called the Church of Vatican II.

    • Replies: @Dissident
    "gregor" wrote:

    Somewhat related: I wonder if there might be a market for a “fake” religion for conservatives. That is to say something that’s theologically lenient and consistent with modern science but simultaneously traditional and non-degenerate. Like Episcopalian but not completely gay.
     
    "Old Palo Altan" replied (and "Dan Hayes" and "Intelligent Dasein" • Agreed):

    It has been in formation since 1965 and is called the Church of Vatican II.

     

    All of three of you, then, would characterize even the present-day Church of Bergoglio as "traditional and non-degenerate"? If yes, I would be rather shocked, based on what I have seen of each of your posting histories. If no, and I have misunderstood, then you might want to clarify.
  183. @MarzAat
    Poe no humor? I suggest his "Never Bet the Devil Your Head" as an example of humor. I would suggest Poe was a sophisticated fiction writer and theorist.

    I only know Bloom second-hand, but, as I recall, his disdain of commercial fiction shows up in his critiques of Tolkein. He seems to have missed the boat big time there.

    Anybody who says Shakespeare invented humanity is guilty of Bardolatry. Shakespeare gave us an amazing number of words and phrases. But, as I understand it, Bloom claimed Shakespeare was virtually without flaws. Checkout T. S. Eliot's criticism of Hamlet, as an example, of Shakespeare's grasp exceeding his reach.

    I have no patient for the school of resentment literary criticism, but it does help to not only view literature as art but steeped in the culture of the time. My Shakespeare professor made it clear that an Elizabethean steeped in contemporary ideas of theology and the nature of ghosts would see Hamlet differently than modern audiences would.

    Poe no humor? I suggest his “Never Bet the Devil Your Head” as an example of humor.

    I’ve always liked the bitingly satirical “The Man That Was Used Up.” It’s also interesting as an early example of Science Fiction (the eponymous man is what we would call a cyborg)

    http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/POE/used_up.html

    • Replies: @MarzAat
    That's a good one too.

    And, if you want insights on human nature, there's "The Tell-Tale Heart", "The Imp of the Perverse", "The Man in the Crowd".

    I just re-read "The Murders in the Rue Morgue". Its whole opening makes a somewhat convincing argument that the intelligence of a champion whist player is a whole lot more useful than the intelligence of a champion chess player.

    I forgot that Bloom wrote a bunch of criticism of sf. I'll have to check it out. I would be particularly interested in what he says about Edgar Rice Burroughs.

    I'm not a fan of Burroughs, but I think he's a prime example of a writer of what I call "unenforced classics". Those are books that people continue to read, in Burroughs case for more than a 100 years now, despite their lack of lit crit praise or even in the presence of lit crit scorn. To conceive stories that people still like after a 100 years must get you some credit for creating art of merit.

    But then, I suppose, it's hard to find the secret messages in Burroughs.

  184. I predict universities will go the way of shopping malls. They are relics of a bygone era that can’t compete with the Internet and related innovations. They are desperately trying to enroll quantity over quality and have all oversaturated the market.

    Only the top 20th percentile should even consider the equivalent of a True university degree. Most Students can’t really understand or add knowledge to what they supposedly learned anyhow. How does this benefit society as a whole to have millions of credentialed know-nothings and do-nothings?

    The Ivy League is already loosing its luster as it caters to skin color over talent. It’s days are numbered.

    • Replies: @Bill B.

    I predict universities will go the way of shopping malls.
     
    Another analogy might be newspapers. They dumb down and kowtow to liberal shibboleths in an effort to reverse declining interest. They embrace clickbait pseudo-news to cut costs.

    It will be to no avail and they will continue to drift into the sunset.

    The real strategy should have been to accept a diminished readership but go for quality and to try to do something positive for their readers.
  185. @Bardon Kaldian
    C-P on old Bloom:

    I’ve read 10 + Bloom’s books & he constantly harps on these authors: Shakespeare, Chaucer, Dante, Milton, Whitman, Tolstoy, Montaigne, Kafka, Freud, Samuel Johnson, Whitman, Dickens, Dickinson … George Eliot is lavishly praised for her philo-Semitism. Nathanael West is also his favorite.

    His fave authors not listed among those “narrowly canonical” are Swift, Richardson, Hart Crane & Wallace Stevens. Orwell, Camus, Garcia Marquez, …in his view overrated. O’Connor almost great, but her Catholicism annoys him. He openly hates Celine & especially P. Wyndham Lewis.

    He grudgingly admits Dostoevsky’s greatness, but always finds a way to marginalize him (bad antisemite, bad). For instance, Bloom compiled a book of criticism on Tolstoy where he took a chapter from Steiner’s work “Tolstoy or Dostoevsky’”, but somehow “forgot” to include parts from Steiner where Steiner openly expresses the view that Dostoevsky is deeper & more significant writer than Tolstoy (or at least, more relevant).

    Bloom’s weaknesses are sometimes laughable. Just a few rambling associations….

    Bloom’s”theory” is that Shakespeare’s characters change because they overhear themselves. Actually, this is a dramatic device, not necessary for, say, novels. Of course that Shakespeare’s characters are more vivid & memorable than most of his predecessors’, but this has nothing to do with this purely technical artifice. And his Bardolatry is absurd – even when writing on Kafka, he has to mention Shake as a creator of “shamanic cosmos”. He is right in his claim that Conrad was central formative influence on Faulkner & Fitzgerald, but re Hemingway- wrong; also, he wrote on Milton basically “overhearing” himself about Shakespeare. Nothing new.

    Bloom got it right that the ending of Goethe’s “Faust” is “cultural appropriation” of Dante & Catholic mythology, but in a creative way. Kudos for that. His chapters on Dickinson & Dickens & Eliot are his personal projections. Not much insight.

    Anyway, I'd comment on some of his books..

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51OMXge-YFL._SX340_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Don't bother, a waste of time. True, there are some interesting personal details, be he mostly writes & quotes poems- not something very appealing.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51-bg5k6LRL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Read it, especially parts on novels & short stories (drama & poetry I haven't found of much interest)

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/410fXLkJk4L._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Chapters on Dante, Goethe, Johnson, Proust are great. Dickens, Whitman & Shakespeare- a mixed bag. Freud, Dickinson, Joyce, Beckett, Borges..either weird or worthless.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51%2BvYcXAHML._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Inflated nonsense, avoid it.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/5161NzVWP6L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Surprisingly readable, if you accept his weird Kabbalah scheme, a fun to read.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41pEH%2Bhmf1L._SY346_.jpg

    Good all-American book. Recommended.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41ahX-ERv4L._SX252_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Nonsense, but still funny.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51gm6QXGpSL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Surprise, surprise- good.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41nGuI-qT%2BL._SY346_.jpg

    He's wrong about virtually everything, but, if you want fun ....

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51m5b1vPS1L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Western Gnosis. Highly recommended. Also, thrashes New Age.

    When I was in High School, I used to play a little game when I read Bloom. How far into the text would I get before Bloom referenced Gnosticism. Sometimes I wouldn’t make it through the first paragraph……

    • LOL: Bardon Kaldian
    • Replies: @Sean
    Referenced Hitler more like.

    https://www.lawliberty.org/2019/03/22/john-gray-separates-the-atheist-wheat-from-the-chaff/

    Voegelin’s famous thesis is that the medieval theologian Joachim of Fiore took Gnosticism’s valorization of reason, combined it with the Christian idea of providence and the Christian social form of the monk, and therewith bequeathed to the West the idea of a cadre of benevolent experts managing the world for its betterment. Voegelin sees modernity as a continuation of the Middle Ages, not the ancient world
     
    What Voegelin counterposed to "Gnosticism" seems to me more a learned helplessness rather than timeless wisdom of classical texts. It boiled down to an emigre seeing liberalism as basically proto Nazi. A recent book by Brendan Simms suggests Hitler's objectives stemmed more from his side losing WW1 and his consequent enthusiasm for Anglo American resources, productive capacity and dynamism than recondite intellectual genealogies.
  186. @syonredux

    Poe no humor? I suggest his “Never Bet the Devil Your Head” as an example of humor.
     
    I've always liked the bitingly satirical "The Man That Was Used Up." It's also interesting as an early example of Science Fiction (the eponymous man is what we would call a cyborg)

    http://xroads.virginia.edu/~HYPER/POE/used_up.html

    That’s a good one too.

    And, if you want insights on human nature, there’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”, “The Imp of the Perverse”, “The Man in the Crowd”.

    I just re-read “The Murders in the Rue Morgue”. Its whole opening makes a somewhat convincing argument that the intelligence of a champion whist player is a whole lot more useful than the intelligence of a champion chess player.

    I forgot that Bloom wrote a bunch of criticism of sf. I’ll have to check it out. I would be particularly interested in what he says about Edgar Rice Burroughs.

    I’m not a fan of Burroughs, but I think he’s a prime example of a writer of what I call “unenforced classics”. Those are books that people continue to read, in Burroughs case for more than a 100 years now, despite their lack of lit crit praise or even in the presence of lit crit scorn. To conceive stories that people still like after a 100 years must get you some credit for creating art of merit.

    But then, I suppose, it’s hard to find the secret messages in Burroughs.

    • Replies: @syonredux

    I forgot that Bloom wrote a bunch of criticism of sf. I’ll have to check it out. I would be particularly interested in what he says about Edgar Rice Burroughs.
     
    Don't know what Bloom thought of ERB. I do know that he was quite fond of Ursula K Le Guin, though. And he was extremely impressed by the work of John Crowley, particularly the Aegypt tetralogy and Little, Big.
    , @syonredux

    I would be particularly interested in what he says about Edgar Rice Burroughs.
     
    As I said upthread, I can't recall ever reading any comments by Bloom on ERB. But I do know that he had an extremely low opinion of H Rider Haggard. Bearing that in mind, I'd be willing to wager that Bloom's take on Burroughs would be on the negative side.....
  187. @nebulafox
    Bloom on Dostoevsky:

    "Absorbing as Crime and Punishment is, it cannot be absolved of tendentiousness, which is Dostoevsky's invariable flaw. He is a partisan, whose fierce perspective is always explicit in what he writes. His design upon us is to raise us, like Lazarus, from our own nihilism and skepticism, and then convert us to Orthodoxy. Writers as eminent as Chekhov and Nabokov have been unable to abide him; to them he was scarcely an artist, but a shrill would-be prophet. I myself, with each rereading, find Crime and Punishment an ordeal, dreadfully powerful but somewhat pernicious, almost as though it were Macbeth composed by Macbeth himself."

    See, but that's what makes Dostoevsky really good. It's not that I always agree with him. I'm not religious. Nor am I Russian, so ultimately I'm not sure how much Dostoevsky himself would expect or want me to fully identify with him. He's a consistent check on my own thinking, on the limits of rationality. I don't think he'd be able to do that with a scholarly analysis, I don't think he'd be... a psychologist, to the degree that he is, the only psychologist worth reading. When you are dealing with something as fundamentally irrational, tendentious, and fierce as a human being's inner thoughts and desires, you'll never truly impress anything on the heart of your reader if you aren't afraid to take the plunge into that world.

    (This is what everybody gets wrong about the Grand Inquisitor's story: Dostoevsky is not advocating Ivan's perspective. He understands it, analyzes it, sympathizes with it in some respects, even shows the doubts he has himself when Shatov in Demons says that he "will" believe in God. But he's not agreeing, and he's not hypocritically pretending to be something he isn't. It shows in his writing, that fundamental honesty. He's still an Orthodox man who ultimately advocates an Orthodox argument. He isn't upset about the lack of a rational, individual response, because he gives theological and communal ones instead.)

    I’ll ask the obvious question: why is a man with a photographic memory “rereading” anything?

    • Replies: @Bardon Kaldian
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfoUAB9yIPg

    And then, a rather sad look on ravages of old age ....

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQwrx4dI0xE
  188. @syonredux
    When I was in High School, I used to play a little game when I read Bloom. How far into the text would I get before Bloom referenced Gnosticism. Sometimes I wouldn't make it through the first paragraph......

    Referenced Hitler more like.

    https://www.lawliberty.org/2019/03/22/john-gray-separates-the-atheist-wheat-from-the-chaff/

    Voegelin’s famous thesis is that the medieval theologian Joachim of Fiore took Gnosticism’s valorization of reason, combined it with the Christian idea of providence and the Christian social form of the monk, and therewith bequeathed to the West the idea of a cadre of benevolent experts managing the world for its betterment. Voegelin sees modernity as a continuation of the Middle Ages, not the ancient world

    What Voegelin counterposed to “Gnosticism” seems to me more a learned helplessness rather than timeless wisdom of classical texts. It boiled down to an emigre seeing liberalism as basically proto Nazi. A recent book by Brendan Simms suggests Hitler’s objectives stemmed more from his side losing WW1 and his consequent enthusiasm for Anglo American resources, productive capacity and dynamism than recondite intellectual genealogies.

  189. @YetAnotherAnon
    Not sure Lovecraft was a "great" writer, but he created several unique worlds - is there anyone quite like him?

    "West of Arkham the hills rise wild, and there are valleys with deep woods that no axe has ever cut. There are dark narrow glens where the trees slope fantastically, and where thin brooklets trickle without ever having caught the glint of sunlight. On the gentler slopes there are farms, ancient and rocky, with squat, moss-coated cottages brooding eternally over old New England secrets in the lee of great ledges..."
     
    It probably helps to discover him when you're 12 or 13, and learning new words like 'eldritch'.

    "Around the feeble fires dark forms were dancing, and Carter was curious as to what manner of beings they might be; for no healthy folk have ever been to Leng, and the place is known only by its fires and stone huts as seen from afar. Very slowly and awkwardly did those forms leap, and with an insane twisting and bending not good to behold..."
     

  190. @syonredux
    My personal favorite passage in HPL's work:



    There was a mind from the planet we know as Venus, which would live incalculable epochs to come, and one from an outer moon of Jupiter six million years in the past. Of earthly minds there were some from the winged, star-headed, half-vegetable race of palaeogean Antarctica; one from the reptile people of fabled Valusia; three from the furry pre-human Hyperborean worshippers of Tsathoggua; one from the wholly abominable Tcho-Tchos; two from the arachnid denizens of earth’s last age; five from the hardy coleopterous species immediately following mankind, to which the Great Race was some day to transfer its keenest minds en masse in the face of horrible peril; and several from different branches of humanity.

    I talked with the mind of Yiang-Li, a philosopher from the cruel empire of Tsan-Chan, which is to come in A.D. 5000; with that of a general of the great-headed brown people who held South Africa in B.C. 50,000; with that of a twelfth-century Florentine monk named Bartolomeo Corsi; with that of a king of Lomar who had ruled that terrible polar land 100,000 years before the squat, yellow Inutos came from the west to engulf it; with that of Nug-Soth, a magician of the dark conquerors of A.D. 16,000; with that of a Roman named Titus Sempronius Blaesus, who had been a quaestor in Sulla’s time; with that of Khephnes, an Egyptian of the 14th Dynasty who told me the hideous secret of Nyarlathotep; with that of a priest of Atlantis’ middle kingdom; with that of a Suffolk gentleman of Cromwell’s day, James Woodville; with that of a court astronomer of pre-Inca Peru; with that of the Australian physicist Nevil Kingston-Brown, who will die in A.D. 2518; with that of an archimage of vanished Yhe in the Pacific; with that of Theodotides, a Graeco-Bactrian official of B.C. 200; with that of an aged Frenchman of Louis XIII’s time named Pierre-Louis Montmagny; with that of Crom-Ya, a Cimmerian chieftain of B.C. 15,000; and with so many others that my brain cannot hold the shocking secrets and dizzying marvels I learned from them.


    -The Shadow Out of Time

    If you cannot enjoy this, I do not want to know you.

  191. @MarzAat
    I'll ask the obvious question: why is a man with a photographic memory "rereading" anything?

    And then, a rather sad look on ravages of old age ….

  192. Anonymous[235] • Disclaimer says:
    @Bardon Kaldian
    Whether you agree with Bloom re this or that author- you have to concede he was right when he prophesied that reading for pleasure will have mostly vanished in near future. Everyday experience confirms that.

    Whether you agree with Bloom re this or that author- you have to concede he was right when he prophesied that reading for pleasure will have mostly vanished in near future. Everyday experience confirms that.

    People still read for pleasure. The problem is people don’t read for meaning and expression, but then, maybe literature has been exhausted. All that is left is ‘reading for pleasure’. People want good stories well told. They don’t care about what literature can do. Modernism exhausted what literature can do. Stream-of-consciousness was once new and exciting. There were all sorts of experimentalism, but what new stuff can be done?

    Also, it gets kind of boring to say, with every new generation, that certain writers were great. So they were. So, all that is left is the game of making literature relevant to our times, and that means politicizing them according to the latest fads.

  193. Funny- both of them got metooed …..

  194. @Intelligent Dasein

    The decline in overall IQ will kill Shakespeare study in the US. If everyone doesn’t appreciate Shakespeare, then Shakespeare will have to go.
     
    This is wrong and backwards (and ridiculous).

    Shakespeare was never meant to be highbrow stuff. It was originally meant to be common theater that everyone could appreciate. Whereas the academic jargon and recherche ideas of critical studies really do require an intellectual strain and are inaccessible to most.

    It is actually quite tragic (pun intended) that people like Bloom have succeeded in converting Shakespeare from a universal possession intto an academic merit badge. In doing so, they have brought about the very condition they now deplore. They just couldn't stomach the thought of the masses pawing at their precious texts with their grubby hands, so they so sharpened and harshened the experience that few would ever want to endure it. Then they turned around and complained that more people weren't learning Shakespeare.

    This is like the prima ballerina scoffing at the people for being out of shape and ungraceful, and wondering why more of them don't come to the ballet.

    Shakespeare is available for free all over the internet, along with helpful things like “No Fear Shakespeare” that put a common-English semi-translation next to his original words, videos of his plays, annotated versions of the sonnets, etc. Shakespeare has never been more accessible than he is right now.

    Don’t give professors more attention than they’re worth.

  195. Anonymous[235] • Disclaimer says:
    @anonynous
    We live in a dark age - Kali Yuga.

    In the Dark Ages of Western Europe (I'm only guessing - 600 AD to 1500 AD) the best stories, poems, philosophies of the Classical ages were only preserved by Catholic Christian monks - thank god for them.

    M'thinks it's time for those of us who know, those of us who care to start building fortified monestaries here in North America.

    I was so bored this Saturday I turned on the Notre Dame vs USC football game. There were official Notre Dame University adverts showing modern dressed women Notre Dame students being exposed to multi perspectives like Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique".

    This was obvious virtue signaling that today's Notre Dame is PC, multi cult, Liberation Theology in line with that #*$&@ CINO (Catholic in Name Only) Pope Francis. The City of South Bend Indiana's mayor is an out of the closet homosexual now running for Demorat President on a campaign to take away the tax exempt status of any college or university that opposes homosexual marriage equality.

    OK - we're in a dark age, our kinsmen the higher caste Hindus called it:

    Kali Yuga.

    Please think and act accordingly.

    We live in a dark age – Kali Yuga.

    More like the Spark Age. Everything is connected electronically, and it’s like we’re living inside a pinball machine or slot machine. People not only go to Las Vegas but it has entered our minds with endless sensory stimulation.

    But spark is not the light. It’s like moths and insects mistaking electric light for daylight.

  196. @gregor
    Eh, this Bloom guy sounds okay in my book. I can’t object to his defense of classic literature or his assaults on left wing literary criticism. We can only hope for more “subversives” in this mold. It’s true that if it weren’t for his coethnics there would be little need for such a defense of dead white males and he is at best canceling out a minuscule portion of the damage caused by other Jewish academics, but I’m not going to hold that against him personally. At the same time, I can’t give him too much credit for calling out that stuff that’s so transparently stupid. And I find it galling that only Jews seem to be permitted to act in this sort of role, at least in elite venues. Could a goy write like Bloom without being drummed out of academia for white supremacy? Do any of them dare try? (Similarly for some reason Pinker seems to be the only elite professor who can flirt with biological realism.)

    One thing I would be interested to know is if there is any subtle (or not so subtle) Jewish boosterism in Bloom’s work. Shakespeare, Chaucer, and ... Kafka? Likewise, in one of syon’s quotes here the thread Bloom praises Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, and Arthur Miller. Odd that he picks only Jews for his examples of good modern writers in that sentence.

    The most blatant Jewish axe Bloom had to grind was his vendetta against T.S. Eliot, whom he desperately hoped to purge from the canon for the sin a antisemitism.

    (Eliot with a baedeker, Bloom with a cigar.)

    According to Bloom, Black grievance, female grievance, homosexual grievance etc. should play no role in determining the Western Canon.

    But Jewish grievance? That’s another story altogether!

    He was basically the neocon of the culture wars – the approved, controlled opposition.

    • Replies: @Dumbo
    That wouldn't be so bad if Bloom had not included Freud in his literary canon. Freud... I mean, granted, psychoanalysis and Freudian theories had a great influence in literature at the time (perhaps much more than it should), but Freud's writing is... well, not really something that should be considered first-rate by anyone.

    I certainly prefer T. S. Eliot. Well, the Four Quarters.

    His little book about cats, I don't really like that one so much.
    , @Anonymous

    The most blatant Jewish axe Bloom had to grind was his vendetta against T.S. Eliot, whom he desperately hoped to purge from the canon for the sin a antisemitism.
     
    But he included Eliot in the canon.

    http://sonic.net/~rteeter/grtbloom.html


    T. S. Eliot
    The Complete Poems and Plays
    Selected Essays
     
    I think, more than 'antisemitism', what he objected to about Eliot was the New Criticism that had once been dominant in the academia. Bloom's generation found it to dry, crusty, and stodgy.

    He also included 'anti-semites' Celine and Hamsun.

    The real shame is there is no mention of Henry Williamson and Mike Royko.

    8 by Faulkner. Wow.

    Anthony Burgess is interesting too. His list of 99 novels.

    http://sonic.net/~rteeter/grt99.html

  197. Anonymous[235] • Disclaimer says:
    @Intelligent Dasein

    The decline in overall IQ will kill Shakespeare study in the US. If everyone doesn’t appreciate Shakespeare, then Shakespeare will have to go.
     
    This is wrong and backwards (and ridiculous).

    Shakespeare was never meant to be highbrow stuff. It was originally meant to be common theater that everyone could appreciate. Whereas the academic jargon and recherche ideas of critical studies really do require an intellectual strain and are inaccessible to most.

    It is actually quite tragic (pun intended) that people like Bloom have succeeded in converting Shakespeare from a universal possession intto an academic merit badge. In doing so, they have brought about the very condition they now deplore. They just couldn't stomach the thought of the masses pawing at their precious texts with their grubby hands, so they so sharpened and harshened the experience that few would ever want to endure it. Then they turned around and complained that more people weren't learning Shakespeare.

    This is like the prima ballerina scoffing at the people for being out of shape and ungraceful, and wondering why more of them don't come to the ballet.

    It was originally meant to be common theater that everyone could appreciate.

    But the common man back has limited access to art and theater.

    Also, even if Shakespeare didn’t mean to be ‘highbrow’ in the cultural sense, his insights and expressions were such that they were destined to be appreciated as High Art.

  198. @MarzAat
    That's a good one too.

    And, if you want insights on human nature, there's "The Tell-Tale Heart", "The Imp of the Perverse", "The Man in the Crowd".

    I just re-read "The Murders in the Rue Morgue". Its whole opening makes a somewhat convincing argument that the intelligence of a champion whist player is a whole lot more useful than the intelligence of a champion chess player.

    I forgot that Bloom wrote a bunch of criticism of sf. I'll have to check it out. I would be particularly interested in what he says about Edgar Rice Burroughs.

    I'm not a fan of Burroughs, but I think he's a prime example of a writer of what I call "unenforced classics". Those are books that people continue to read, in Burroughs case for more than a 100 years now, despite their lack of lit crit praise or even in the presence of lit crit scorn. To conceive stories that people still like after a 100 years must get you some credit for creating art of merit.

    But then, I suppose, it's hard to find the secret messages in Burroughs.

    I forgot that Bloom wrote a bunch of criticism of sf. I’ll have to check it out. I would be particularly interested in what he says about Edgar Rice Burroughs.

    Don’t know what Bloom thought of ERB. I do know that he was quite fond of Ursula K Le Guin, though. And he was extremely impressed by the work of John Crowley, particularly the Aegypt tetralogy and Little, Big.

  199. Anonymous[235] • Disclaimer says:
    @eugyppius
    Right, I had in mind more the personal context of the leftist English professor, who could either give up his coveted tenure-track appointment to bask in ideological purity, or find some way to square leftism with his rank bourgeois careerist pursuits. This is the circle that I think Marcuse and the New Left were trying to square (also they found the proletariat culturally and politically distasteful). And the strange attraction/mismatch between bourgeois types and leftism is why these New Left-style displacements keep happening, with the result that leftism as a force is most active in the cultural sphere.
    Disillusionment with Marxist experiments abroad was naturally a precondition for this mess.

    This is the circle that I think Marcuse and the New Left were trying to square (also they found the proletariat culturally and politically distasteful). And the strange attraction/mismatch between bourgeois types and leftism is why these New Left-style displacements keep happening, with the result that leftism as a force is most active in the cultural sphere.

    I wonder how important the Franksters really were. Maybe it was just pop culture, something which many Franksters opposed. As libs and cons both grew up with rock culture, everything changed. Even Ann Coulter was into the Grateful Dead, and even most cons disagreed with Allan Bloom about the Rolling Stones. Kevin Michael Grace is a catholic con but he loves punk music culture. And libs soaked it up too.

    Take BONNIE AND CLYDE. It signaled a huge cultural shift on the Left. Earlier, leftists had written about gangster movies and even lauded some of them. But, they kept a critical and ideological distance. Gangsters were not good guys. They were parasites of capitalism. Or even if certain criminals were rebels of a sort, their way was misguided.
    But with BONNIE AND CLYDE, many leftists not only cheered the violence wholeheartedly but even saw the criminals as REVOLUTIONARIES. Pop culture has that effect. It weakens and washes away critical distance.

    It’s like the Julie Hagerty character in LOST IN AMERICA who says she just couldn’t stop at the roulette table because the excitement of the game and crowd dissolved her senses. When the ‘conservative’ party in the US has a casino mogul as the #1 contributor, there is something wrong all around. Visceralism took over the culture.

    At 8:30 in the video:

    https://siskelebert.org/?p=5151

  200. @Ibound1
    That he wrote for the pit is only an indication of how far we have fallen.

    What are you talking about? He wrote for the pit to sell tickets so he could eat half a millennium ago. That has nothing to do with your own personal sky falling.

    I guarandamntee you the brutes in that pit had very little in the way of IQ. Likewise our brutes would get the same kick today out of Billy Shaxper if they ever got a peek at the cheeky bastard’s work.

  201. @nebulafox
    You can find graffiti about the Aeneid in some of the old toilets in Pompeii, from what I hear.

    The problem is not that information is available: I deeply believe that it is ultimately a good thing if people know more, not less, regardless of their social station. The problem is that it is not truly being used. There's nothing sadder than a book on a shelf, gathering never being read, never read: almost like an abandoned, neglected young lady, whose femininity is not appreciated.

    Our local Shakespeare Company got so popular they had to build a big new theater. I don’t see any indication he’s being neglected rather than suppressed by inferior talents who fear the comparison and should.

  202. Anonymous[235] • Disclaimer says:

    I don’t see any indication he’s being neglected rather than suppressed by inferior talents who fear the comparison and should.

    Academic suppression doesn’t mean popular rejection.

    I read somewhere that most critics didn’t think highly of Andrew Wyeth, but his star kept rising, and his works led to some serious bucks in the 80s.

    Also, there are two kinds of antipathy.

    One where the academia or intelligentsia mostly ignore the work. Like BIRTH OF A NATION. Back in the days, Dwight MacDonald and Pauline Kael and others used to routinely mention it as a great important work. Now, it’s hardly mentioned at all except for its ‘racism’. And yet, the film is as important as POTEMKIN, maybe even more so.

    The other kind of antipathy is to keep mentioning the Offensive Artist over and over as the object of hatred, resentment, etc. He becomes the one they love to hate, the designated grand villain, a figure of notoriety. Well, at least such figures will be remembered.

    • Replies: @Joe Stalin
    Back in the day where Hollywood considered Southerners as honorable and not as caricatures as shown in this 1926 movie "The General."

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWm587wKKVw
  203. @Dacian Julien Soros
    At the most recent Labour conference, the party proposed a reduction in the working week to 36 hours, a maximum limit for the percentage for privately-educated high-schoolers in the annual intake of state-subsidized universities, and the unification of various local schemes into a national social care system, free at the point of care. That is Marxist left.

    American private college students, derping about LGBT sexuality and race imbalances, are not leftists by any measure.

    Were you not indoctrinated about the supposed dangers of "Marxism", you would describe the woke as "Nazis", or "antiSemites", or some other label you hardly understand, but "know" it should be bad.

    By repeating "insults" you were brainwashed with by Reaganites during kindergarten, you prove yourself as low as the woke. Namecalling should remain in the kindergartens.

    not leftists by any measure

    On the contrary, they are the logical next step from your version of leftism. (And they got where they are with help from genuine Marxists, including Trotsky, Gramsci and the Frankfurt School.)

    Leftists promise utopia via the application of absolute equality to some aspect of life.

    When one type of equality fails to produce paradise, a more fundamental type of equality is proposed.

    Those who oppose their plans are the “privileged” who must be defeated before paradise can be attained.

    The history of the left is thus the history of an ever expanding definition of the “class enemy”

    For the philosophes, believers in equality before an inert God, priests were the class enemy.

    The Jacobins, demanding equality before the law, added kings and nobles to the list, then the Marxists, striving for economic equality, added capitalists to the list of class enemies, and the Leninists expanded the definition of “capitalist” as far as possible, to even include prosperous peasants (“kulaks”).

    The SJWs, obsessed with racial and sexual equality, are merely expanding the definition of “class enemy” a bit further to include all White Christian men.

    Taking things a step further still, radical environmentalists consider the entire human race to be the class enemy. The presence of plants, animals, fungi and microbes on this planet is legitimate, but the presence of humans and their influence on the environment is fundamentally illegitimate and must be curtailed.

    And it doesn’t end there.

    The reducio ad absurdum of leftism is David Pearce (hedweb.com), who considers all “Darwinism life forms” to be the class enemy which must be abolished and replaced by new genetically engineered life forms which won’t cause suffering for others, unlike the evil life forms which currently exist.

    He rails against lions, the beautiful yet cruel “SS of the Serengeti”, with the same hatred that you reserve for those dastardly capitalists, or that Marat had for the aristocrats, or that the SJWs have for straight White men.

    European Christian civilization is relatively egalitarian, compared to the other major civilization, and this is a big reason for its success. The relatively egalitarian aspects of European Christian civilization should be cherished and preserved. Monogamy should be defended, and wisdom dictates populist measures which tend to preserve the West’s traditional relatively egalitarian distribution of wealth against the globalist tendency towards vast disparities.

    But the left’s pursuit of absolute equality is a recipe for madness and disaster.

    • Replies: @The Last Real Calvinist

    When one type of equality fails to produce paradise, a more fundamental type of equality is proposed.

     

    Excellent.
    , @Dieter Kief
    What you write is interesting indeed. And The Last Real Calvinist did find one of the core thoughts of yours.


    (- This blog is amazing. The best Harald Bloom blog too, these days. No German paper came even close to it).

  204. @MarzAat
    That's a good one too.

    And, if you want insights on human nature, there's "The Tell-Tale Heart", "The Imp of the Perverse", "The Man in the Crowd".

    I just re-read "The Murders in the Rue Morgue". Its whole opening makes a somewhat convincing argument that the intelligence of a champion whist player is a whole lot more useful than the intelligence of a champion chess player.

    I forgot that Bloom wrote a bunch of criticism of sf. I'll have to check it out. I would be particularly interested in what he says about Edgar Rice Burroughs.

    I'm not a fan of Burroughs, but I think he's a prime example of a writer of what I call "unenforced classics". Those are books that people continue to read, in Burroughs case for more than a 100 years now, despite their lack of lit crit praise or even in the presence of lit crit scorn. To conceive stories that people still like after a 100 years must get you some credit for creating art of merit.

    But then, I suppose, it's hard to find the secret messages in Burroughs.

    I would be particularly interested in what he says about Edgar Rice Burroughs.

    As I said upthread, I can’t recall ever reading any comments by Bloom on ERB. But I do know that he had an extremely low opinion of H Rider Haggard. Bearing that in mind, I’d be willing to wager that Bloom’s take on Burroughs would be on the negative side…..

  205. @Stan Adams
    Many American private-college students are self-professed admirers of socialism. And not all of them are woke. Some of the most HBD-aware twentysomethings I know are outspoken proponents of redistributive economic policies.

    Proposals for a guaranteed minimum income and government subsidies for education, housing, and health care enjoy widespread support among middle- and upper-middle-class youth - the kids who have the most to lose. They don't see the downside.

    Fewer and fewer of these kids have any real ties to heritage America.

    A recent med-school graduate of my acquaintance is always going on about the aggressive homeless panhandlers who accost him on his commute. (Racially, he's a Thai/Jewish/German-Catholic mix. He's openly gay.) But he doesn't blame the bums. His tirades invariably end with a denunciation of the evil rich white males who refuse to subsidize an adequate social safety net.

    The other day, he was triggered when his boomer father - a European-born mischling - referred to a power outage as a "blackout."

    Having a shorter work week, or a guaranteed free place in a old people’s home is unrelated, if not somewhat opposite, to discussing the etymology of “blackouts”. The former is related to Marxism, the latter – to Onanism.

    • Replies: @Stan Adams
    Wankers of the world, unite!
  206. This is a super-deserved RIP. Great scholar, and great man, I have his most comprehensive book on Shakespeare and there’s no page without a gem in it.

    And then, contrary to so many… in his group, he was adamant in claiming the truth about Western (White) culture’s height.

  207. @Rapparee

    Armed with a photographic memory, Professor Bloom could recite acres of poetry by heart — by his account, the whole of Shakespeare, Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” all of William Blake, the Hebraic Bible and Edmund Spenser’s monumental “The Fairie Queen.”
     
    My cousin's college English professor once said, "Never trust anyone who claims to have read the entirely of The Faerie Queene- he's either lying, or he's actually insane". I took this as a challenge, finished the whole thing in under 40 days whilst working full-time, and wound up absolutely adoring it (far too much even to be annoyed by Spenser's not-entirely-unjustified animus toward bog-trotting Paddy Papists like me and mine). I have had grave doubts about my mental health ever since.

    I have had grave doubts about my mental health ever since.

    Perhaps grave doubts about your cousin’s English professor are more in place?

    • Replies: @Anon
    No, the Faerie Queene --as iirc was found from observing the number of annotations per page in copies belonging to some well-known critics in the early part of last century-- is just one of those books a fair number of people don't bother to read through. I mean, enough do that the fellow's blanket statement is unjustified, but he was going somewhere intelligent.
  208. @donvonburg
    Mormonism has had several schisms, starting with the Reorganized LDS (now the Community of Christ), the Fundamentalist LDS, the Temple Lot, and a half dozen or more that have died out by now. The LDS mothership is on more or less speaking terms with the Community of Christ, who owns the original Kirtland temple, and to varying degrees or not at all with the others.

    Being an active member of the LDS church is demanding. You have to tithe and prove your tithe really is ten percent of your income to the bishop in an interview. You have to show compliance with the Word of Wisdom, and generally look, act, and smell like a Mormon ought to. You will be pressured to get more involved in this or that activity until most of the time you are not sleeping or at work you are doing something for the church.

    Most Mormons are not very spiritual and not very Bible literate by the standards of conventional Christianity. I personally believe that few Mormon authorities from bishop up really believe in much of Mormon theology. They are in it because they think Mormons have built an alternate and better society with good works-and in some ways, they have. Mormons have solid stable families that do well, and they have a non-government, non-coercive social safety net. No Mormon starves, no Mormon lacks medical care, no Mormon willing and able to work and of decent IQ and character stays underemployed. I admire that.

    They also are big into preparedness, with a food pantry, and many are into serious prepping. Mormons tend to be hunters and know firearms well-John Moses Browning was a Mormon, enough said.

    But the essence of Christianity is that salvation is not through works, it is by acceptance and faith of the finished work of Christ on the Cross and His resurrection. Mormons do not have that. They have doctrines that are unbiblical and bizarre, much of which are simply borrowed from Freemasonry, as are the original temple ceremonies and layout of the Temple. And the Book of Mormon is a simple work of dishonest fiction, concocted by Joseph Smith.

    Mormonism would have died with Smith, but for Brigham Young, who was ruthless, domineering, charismatic and intended to build a nation with himself as unchallengeable, absolute ruler. He didn't quite succeed at that, but he did leave a powerful, efficient, appealing organization.

    I find Mormonism fascinating on many levels, but its theology is, to put it bluntly, rotten.

    The RLDS/Community of Christ has taken an interesting turn in recent decades. It seems to have moved to mainline/pozline Protestantism but with some odd vestiges of Mormonism. They have a Doctrine and Covenants like the LDS but with many revelations unique to their branch, including up through the present day (whereas the LDS church has not added to their version in decades). One of their recent “revelations” is an endorsement of gay marriage.

  209. @John Gruskos
    The most blatant Jewish axe Bloom had to grind was his vendetta against T.S. Eliot, whom he desperately hoped to purge from the canon for the sin a antisemitism.

    (Eliot with a baedeker, Bloom with a cigar.)

    According to Bloom, Black grievance, female grievance, homosexual grievance etc. should play no role in determining the Western Canon.

    But Jewish grievance? That's another story altogether!

    He was basically the neocon of the culture wars - the approved, controlled opposition.

    That wouldn’t be so bad if Bloom had not included Freud in his literary canon. Freud… I mean, granted, psychoanalysis and Freudian theories had a great influence in literature at the time (perhaps much more than it should), but Freud’s writing is… well, not really something that should be considered first-rate by anyone.

    I certainly prefer T. S. Eliot. Well, the Four Quarters.

    His little book about cats, I don’t really like that one so much.

    • Replies: @Autochthon
    The Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats was written for Eliot's godchildren. You had might as well disdain Tolkien for having written Roverandom, or disdain Kenny Loggins' songwriting because "Return to Pooh Corner" has childish sensibilities....

    In the event, they knew their audiences and these are charming pieces for small children. (I expect perhaps you have none.)
  210. @Alden
    Some people really can read extremely fast and remember most of it. A 400 page fiction or history book in an hour is not unusual. A 400 page book in an unfamiliar subject would take more time for me. But Bloom was obviously a lot smarter with a better memory than I.

    A 400 page fiction or history book in an hour is not unusual.

    On the contrary, I would think extremely unusual. That’s almost 7 pages a minute or 1500-1800 wpm. Eye movement research would indicate this is an extreme outlier if not outright impossible.

    • Replies: @Alden
    Depends; those Robert Parker Spencer for Hire books have very wide margins. Then content, sentence structure vocabulary. Not John LeCarre, but Robert Parker yes. Do eyes move when reading? I just look at the whole page all the time. I think. I don’t really know
  211. @Dumbo
    This shows that even Jewish intellectuals have gone down in quality.

    Back in the 90s there were guys like Harold Bloom and Allan Bloom who were very smart and wrote interesting things, even if you would not always agree with them.

    Now there's... who? Ezra Klein?

    I can't think of one recent literary critic (or come to think of, even movie critic) who is memorable or interesting nowadays. But to be fair, I don't really follow the New York Times, so I wouldn't know anyway.

    This shows that even Jewish intellectuals have gone down in quality.

    In Yiddish there is/was an aphorism “Vi es christelt zikh azoy yidelt zikh”= As the Christian world goes, so goes the Jewish world. I.e. Jewish culture is largely derivative of Christian culture. Jewish culture/norms reflect the norms in society at large.

  212. Harold Bloom fell, hook, line & sinker, for Freud’s b.s., which was every bit as stupid & destructive as anything the post-modernists Bloom decried ever came up with.

    I won’t be missing him.

    • Agree: Alden
    • Replies: @Anonymous

    Harold Bloom fell, hook, line & sinker, for Freud’s b.s.
     
    No, he did not. He found interesting how Freud tried to explore and explain the mind EVEN IF he was ultimately wrong. Freud was a great writer even if not such a great scientist. And his approach, despite the conceit of science, was more like speculative literary criticism rich in metaphor and symbolism.
    , @Intelligent Dasein
    I do not quite understand the rampant Freud hatred that crops up so frequently on this blog. It is not warranted even though there is plenty to be cautious about when reading him. Freud very much deserves a place of esteem in the Western intellectual tradition.

    For one thing, for a physician, Freud wrote persuasively and uncommonly well. His prose is lambent and soothing and exceptionally clear. It is a pleasure to read or to hear.

    For another thing, while Freud stands open to the charge that what's new in him isn't true and what's true in him isn't new, that is not to say that there isn't quite a bit of truth in him. There is.

    For a third thing, when Freud needed to fill up the gaps in his knowledge with inference or speculation, his derivations usually went amiss and veered into dangerous territory; however, this was a personal failing of his which should have been corrected by other psychiatrists. Blame for the fact that Freudianism became a destructive force is not something that can be wholly laid at Freud's feet. Everybody makes mistakes, and it belongs to great minds to make great mistakes. The rest of the field must not be absolved
  213. @Jack D
    The question is not whether his Hebrew was better than his Latin. Probably it was since he was raised as an Orthodox Jew and would have learned to read Hebrew at around the same time he learned to read English (or even before) while Latin came later.

    The question is, was his Latin better than yours? I'll bet it was.

    His Hebrew was not all that great(layman level), as witness his Book of J where he makes obvious grammatical mistakes in transliterating Hebrew to English. No comparison to Robert Alter

  214. @Jack D
    Feynman and von Neumann did science and math so they are tough to disagree with, but Bloom's work dealt with culture. As we all know, Jews are Cultural Marxists so being very bright only makes them more destructive.

    You admire Bloom not just because he was very bright but also because you agree with his positions. As usual, I agree with Bloom about Eliot and Pound. Eliot was a lightweight (I hate cats) and Pound was nuts, or even worse he really wasn't nuts and meant what he said when he became the Tokyo Rose of Fascist Italy.

    Eliot will survive as a George Herbert-like poet, good within a narrow range.

    Late in life even Bloom relented on “La Figlia Che Piange,” which really is a beautiful poem.

  215. @eugyppius

    My suspicion was that much of the popularity of French Theory was due to English department academics trying to erect severe barriers to entry to their profession. Tenure track English professors are particularly in danger of competition from amateur adjunct professors who love great literature for being great literature: e.g., bright empty nest housewives, retired advertising copywriters, and the like. So by insisting upon the requirement the literature teachers be conversant in an ugly, graceless vocabulary of “theory,” you can drive away many people who would love to teach students about the most beautiful writing of history.

     

    Disagree a little bit here.

    For one, professors in all fields already have powerful cartel protections. As a rule, without approval from the community of scholars (indicated by the PhD), you can't teach. In the humanities and social sciences at least you also face a far higher barrier to anyone taking your ideas seriously, whatever their merits. These protections go back many centuries and indicate a longstanding insecurity. It is not merely English professors who are vulnerable to the expertise of dedicated autodidacts and amateurs. History (which never saw a full-blown theory incursion) is another tree blooming with low-hanging fruit, as are a great part of the natural sciences.

    The theory drive was already in its senescence when I was at grad school, and to be honest these days I look back on the shallow postmodernist girls (the ones I knew were always girls) with nostalgia. How much better and smarter they were than the race theorists and the queer theorists and the thing theorists and god knows what else. But they also paved the way for the troglodytes of the present , indeed they have done nothing but hire them and approve their daft dissertations with depressing regularity, so they are just as evil.

    As I see it, critical theory happened for these reasons:

    1) It allowed an increasingly leftist group of literary scholars, all of whom were saddled with a creeping shame over their comfortable bourgeois professorial appointments, to enact some simulacrum of leftism in their scholarship. This was ideologically acceptable anyway because the New Left was busy casting the proletariat overboard (they were too reactionary) and scheming about how the revolution would be accomplished within the academy or something ridiculous like that. In general I think leftist ideology makes very tall demands of its adherents and therefore it is rather leftist simulacra - proxies for or enactments of leftism in non-economic contexts that satisfy the same basic instincts and moral impulses - that have exercised most influence in the modern west.

    2) Before litcrit, scholars of literature had to subordinate themselves to the texts that they studied. You see this in Bloom, who is always railing about what a genius somebody like Shakespeare was. Well, our English professor asks herself, isn't she worth anything? Must her efforts always be footnoted to the scribblings of authors long dead? Here I think it's especially important that litcrit took off just as women began their rise in the academy, and that many of its early proponents were women and gay men. It places the scholar above the literature, but in a moral sense. The English professor can now lecture Defoe or whoever for his moral failings as a racist colonialist and enjoy superiority. The need to level up on the moral plane specifically strikes me as especially feminine. A similar impatience with always playing second fiddle might have manifested itself much differently in a more masculinized academy, but who knows.

    3) Here's where I kind of agree with Sailer, but with a different accent: I think scholars of modern English literature (those who first caught the theory virus) are kind of boxed in intellectually. What is it that they do, exactly? The History Department down the hall has a lock on the broader world that produced the works they study, so they can't do much with context or reception. And unlike medievalists or classicists, their works are written in modern languages and were printed mostly under the aegis of their authors. So there is no philological angle. One thing to do would be to canonize texts full of arcana that require explanation, and here the modernists cooperated e.g. with Joyce. Another thing to do would be to build some kind of broader theory of literature and society or literature and meaning, a proprietary method of criticism and interpretation. Whatever this was to be, it had to stay out of the way of Philosophy departments and so forth. And so they ended up with this politicized textualized paraphilosophical critical system of meaning that they could apply to the canon at will and without any interference.

    4) Building a little on 3), illuminating the greatness of great works - the stock in trade of people like Bloom - is a somewhat shallow project at the end of the day. I'm not deeply versed in older waves of scholarship coming out of English departments, but another thing they would do is read the author's biography against his works and read his themes and preoccupations in light of his life events. That is also an exercise of limited value. And theory wasn't totally bereft of ideas. (To see that you need only compare it to Crenshaw's intersectionality theory, which truly is empty.) Contemplating things like the nature of meaning and its locus strike us as tiresome, because we have heard about it so much, but to some lit profs in the 1970s these questions seemed fresh and new. That they had been asked before in more serious contexts and were merely being repeated in careless ramblings by a bunch of French intellectual frauds was of course another matter.

    Great comment; thanks very much for it.

    I was a student in a humanities grad program in the late 80s. As you say in point 2, a spirit of ugly triumphalism was ascendant, as the academy’s intellectual mediocrities — and creative ciphers — rooted through the glories of the western tradition to dig up and fondle the smelly nuggets that ‘revealed’ the racism/sexism/classism of their civilizational progenitors. How they savored those nasty little mock-ephiphanies — instead of humility before the text, they could stand as judge, jury, and executioner.

    And, speaking of ‘texts’, your point 3 is also very well-taken. The adherents of the ‘linguistic turn’ — or critical theory, or whatever label they preferred — were quite cunning in their sudden, self-proclaimed dominion over all cultural artifacts, aka ‘texts’. Whereas in the past they’d been limited to studying the canon, now their dubious ‘expertise’ could be brought to bear upon even the most mundane culture productions. In the short run, this invasion may have inflated the field’s self-image, but over time its shallowness and triviality have degraded the whole enterprise of studying literature.

  216. Anonymous[747] • Disclaimer says:
    @vinteuil
    Harold Bloom fell, hook, line & sinker, for Freud's b.s., which was every bit as stupid & destructive as anything the post-modernists Bloom decried ever came up with.

    I won't be missing him.

    Harold Bloom fell, hook, line & sinker, for Freud’s b.s.

    No, he did not. He found interesting how Freud tried to explore and explain the mind EVEN IF he was ultimately wrong. Freud was a great writer even if not such a great scientist. And his approach, despite the conceit of science, was more like speculative literary criticism rich in metaphor and symbolism.

  217. @peterike

    Pound was nuts, or even worse he really wasn’t nuts and meant what he said when he became the Tokyo Rose of Fascist Italy.
     
    Politically, Pound was pretty much correct about everything.

    With the rise to dominance of China over the self-destructing West, you could even say he was right about Confucius.

  218. Anonymous[121] • Disclaimer says:
    @John Gruskos
    The most blatant Jewish axe Bloom had to grind was his vendetta against T.S. Eliot, whom he desperately hoped to purge from the canon for the sin a antisemitism.

    (Eliot with a baedeker, Bloom with a cigar.)

    According to Bloom, Black grievance, female grievance, homosexual grievance etc. should play no role in determining the Western Canon.

    But Jewish grievance? That's another story altogether!

    He was basically the neocon of the culture wars - the approved, controlled opposition.

    The most blatant Jewish axe Bloom had to grind was his vendetta against T.S. Eliot, whom he desperately hoped to purge from the canon for the sin a antisemitism.

    But he included Eliot in the canon.

    http://sonic.net/~rteeter/grtbloom.html

    T. S. Eliot
    The Complete Poems and Plays
    Selected Essays

    I think, more than ‘antisemitism’, what he objected to about Eliot was the New Criticism that had once been dominant in the academia. Bloom’s generation found it to dry, crusty, and stodgy.

    He also included ‘anti-semites’ Celine and Hamsun.

    The real shame is there is no mention of Henry Williamson and Mike Royko.

    8 by Faulkner. Wow.

    Anthony Burgess is interesting too. His list of 99 novels.

    http://sonic.net/~rteeter/grt99.html

  219. @anonynous
    We live in a dark age - Kali Yuga.

    In the Dark Ages of Western Europe (I'm only guessing - 600 AD to 1500 AD) the best stories, poems, philosophies of the Classical ages were only preserved by Catholic Christian monks - thank god for them.

    M'thinks it's time for those of us who know, those of us who care to start building fortified monestaries here in North America.

    I was so bored this Saturday I turned on the Notre Dame vs USC football game. There were official Notre Dame University adverts showing modern dressed women Notre Dame students being exposed to multi perspectives like Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique".

    This was obvious virtue signaling that today's Notre Dame is PC, multi cult, Liberation Theology in line with that #*$&@ CINO (Catholic in Name Only) Pope Francis. The City of South Bend Indiana's mayor is an out of the closet homosexual now running for Demorat President on a campaign to take away the tax exempt status of any college or university that opposes homosexual marriage equality.

    OK - we're in a dark age, our kinsmen the higher caste Hindus called it:

    Kali Yuga.

    Please think and act accordingly.

    The Notre Dame students grandmothers and great grandmothers read Betty Friedan. ND shouldn’t be bragging that their students are reading a book about 60 years old.

    To be current, ND student health should offer trans gender surgery and classes in behaving like the opposite sex. Does ND have a medical school? . The med students could do the surgery. They could offer a whole major on transitioning. An entire quarter so girls can learn about shaving, beards mustaches and baldness.

    Transgender women or men who think they are women are now bitching that they are deprived of the joys of menstruation.

    My personal cynical opinion about transgenders. For the last 50 years, women, especially lesbians, have had all the advantages. Transgenderism is a deep dark plot by heterosexual men to grab back their 14th amendment rights. I hope they succeed.

    Just as green electricity is a plot by the electrical industry to make money. And solar panels are a plot by the power company to force the customers to generate electricity which the power company sells back to them.

    Transgenderism is a plot to restore 14th amendment rights to men.

  220. @John Gruskos

    not leftists by any measure
     
    On the contrary, they are the logical next step from your version of leftism. (And they got where they are with help from genuine Marxists, including Trotsky, Gramsci and the Frankfurt School.)

    Leftists promise utopia via the application of absolute equality to some aspect of life.

    When one type of equality fails to produce paradise, a more fundamental type of equality is proposed.

    Those who oppose their plans are the "privileged" who must be defeated before paradise can be attained.

    The history of the left is thus the history of an ever expanding definition of the "class enemy"

    For the philosophes, believers in equality before an inert God, priests were the class enemy.

    The Jacobins, demanding equality before the law, added kings and nobles to the list, then the Marxists, striving for economic equality, added capitalists to the list of class enemies, and the Leninists expanded the definition of "capitalist" as far as possible, to even include prosperous peasants ("kulaks").

    The SJWs, obsessed with racial and sexual equality, are merely expanding the definition of "class enemy" a bit further to include all White Christian men.

    Taking things a step further still, radical environmentalists consider the entire human race to be the class enemy. The presence of plants, animals, fungi and microbes on this planet is legitimate, but the presence of humans and their influence on the environment is fundamentally illegitimate and must be curtailed.

    And it doesn't end there.

    The reducio ad absurdum of leftism is David Pearce (hedweb.com), who considers all "Darwinism life forms" to be the class enemy which must be abolished and replaced by new genetically engineered life forms which won't cause suffering for others, unlike the evil life forms which currently exist.

    He rails against lions, the beautiful yet cruel "SS of the Serengeti", with the same hatred that you reserve for those dastardly capitalists, or that Marat had for the aristocrats, or that the SJWs have for straight White men.

    European Christian civilization is relatively egalitarian, compared to the other major civilization, and this is a big reason for its success. The relatively egalitarian aspects of European Christian civilization should be cherished and preserved. Monogamy should be defended, and wisdom dictates populist measures which tend to preserve the West's traditional relatively egalitarian distribution of wealth against the globalist tendency towards vast disparities.

    But the left's pursuit of absolute equality is a recipe for madness and disaster.

    When one type of equality fails to produce paradise, a more fundamental type of equality is proposed.

    Excellent.

    • Replies: @Old Palo Altan
    Yes, the whole thing is outstanding.
  221. @kaganovitch
    A 400 page fiction or history book in an hour is not unusual.

    On the contrary, I would think extremely unusual. That's almost 7 pages a minute or 1500-1800 wpm. Eye movement research would indicate this is an extreme outlier if not outright impossible.

    Depends; those Robert Parker Spencer for Hire books have very wide margins. Then content, sentence structure vocabulary. Not John LeCarre, but Robert Parker yes. Do eyes move when reading? I just look at the whole page all the time. I think. I don’t really know

    • Replies: @Alden
    Not Brideshead Revisited but all the rest of Evelyn Waugh 400 pages in an hour.
    , @kaganovitch
    Do eyes move when reading? I just look at the whole page all the time. I think. I don’t really know

    Indeed eyes do move while reading. Speed of reading can be improved by constant eye and moving text (digital formats mostly), but iirc you run into short term memory threshold relatively quickly.
  222. @Anonymous

    I don’t see any indication he’s being neglected rather than suppressed by inferior talents who fear the comparison and should.
     
    Academic suppression doesn't mean popular rejection.

    I read somewhere that most critics didn't think highly of Andrew Wyeth, but his star kept rising, and his works led to some serious bucks in the 80s.

    Also, there are two kinds of antipathy.

    One where the academia or intelligentsia mostly ignore the work. Like BIRTH OF A NATION. Back in the days, Dwight MacDonald and Pauline Kael and others used to routinely mention it as a great important work. Now, it's hardly mentioned at all except for its 'racism'. And yet, the film is as important as POTEMKIN, maybe even more so.

    The other kind of antipathy is to keep mentioning the Offensive Artist over and over as the object of hatred, resentment, etc. He becomes the one they love to hate, the designated grand villain, a figure of notoriety. Well, at least such figures will be remembered.

    Back in the day where Hollywood considered Southerners as honorable and not as caricatures as shown in this 1926 movie “The General.”

  223. @Bardon Kaldian
    True dat.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespeare_authorship_question#Evidence_for_Shakespeare's_authorship_from_his_works

    Beginning in 1987, Ward Elliott, who was sympathetic to the Oxfordian theory, and Robert J. Valenza supervised a continuing stylometric study that used computer programs to compare Shakespeare's stylistic habits to the works of 37 authors who had been proposed as the true author. The study, known as the Claremont Shakespeare Clinic, was last held in the spring of 2010.[128] The tests determined that Shakespeare's work shows consistent, countable, profile-fitting patterns, suggesting that he was a single individual, not a committee, and that he used fewer relative clauses and more hyphens, feminine endings, and run-on lines than most of the writers with whom he was compared. The result determined that none of the other tested claimants' work could have been written by Shakespeare, nor could Shakespeare have been written by them, eliminating all of the claimants whose known works have survived—including Oxford, Bacon, and Marlowe—as the true authors of the Shakespeare canon.

    Glad to hear it. I never liked the sheer snobbery and historical ignorance of the Oxfordians and Baconites Shakespeare never went to university. It was a seminary for priests. Hardly anyone but clergy went to university in those days

    His father was a poor glove maker. His father was a mayor, alderman, owned the workshop a house and at least one rental property Shakespeare went to the grammar school the equivalent of a junior college today.

    Deplorable bumpkin couldn’t have written about Italy. How do the snobs know for sure he never went to Italy? There were maps and books about Italy in England in those days. Deplorable bumb kin wouldn’t have known about history. Couldn’t have written those historical plays.

    Cesear, Mark Antony the English kings and Queens were common knowledge. And were studied in the grammar schools. Shakespeare and his classmates learned Latin and read Cesear’s writings in the grammar school as it was part of the standard curriculum. Macbeth was a real Scottish Warlord. Must have been some King Arthur type stories about him.

    My favorite plays are Much Ado About Nothing and Titus Andronicus

  224. @Alden
    Depends; those Robert Parker Spencer for Hire books have very wide margins. Then content, sentence structure vocabulary. Not John LeCarre, but Robert Parker yes. Do eyes move when reading? I just look at the whole page all the time. I think. I don’t really know

    Not Brideshead Revisited but all the rest of Evelyn Waugh 400 pages in an hour.

  225. @vinteuil
    Harold Bloom fell, hook, line & sinker, for Freud's b.s., which was every bit as stupid & destructive as anything the post-modernists Bloom decried ever came up with.

    I won't be missing him.

    I do not quite understand the rampant Freud hatred that crops up so frequently on this blog. It is not warranted even though there is plenty to be cautious about when reading him. Freud very much deserves a place of esteem in the Western intellectual tradition.

    For one thing, for a physician, Freud wrote persuasively and uncommonly well. His prose is lambent and soothing and exceptionally clear. It is a pleasure to read or to hear.

    For another thing, while Freud stands open to the charge that what’s new in him isn’t true and what’s true in him isn’t new, that is not to say that there isn’t quite a bit of truth in him. There is.

    For a third thing, when Freud needed to fill up the gaps in his knowledge with inference or speculation, his derivations usually went amiss and veered into dangerous territory; however, this was a personal failing of his which should have been corrected by other psychiatrists. Blame for the fact that Freudianism became a destructive force is not something that can be wholly laid at Freud’s feet. Everybody makes mistakes, and it belongs to great minds to make great mistakes. The rest of the field must not be absolved

    • Agree: eugyppius
    • Replies: @kaganovitch
    I do not quite understand the rampant Freud hatred that crops up so frequently on this blog. It is not warranted even though there is plenty to be cautious about when reading him. Freud very much deserves a place of esteem in the Western intellectual tradition.


    You have not the measure of Freud's sheer mendacity. I don't think a positive assessment of Freud can survive acquaintance with the last 40 years of Freud scholarship. Esterson, Wilcocks, Scharnberg, MacMillan, Cioffi and Swales have demonstrated beyond cavil that much of Freud's case histories are sheer fabrication - not self-deception, but out and out lies. Add to this ,the pernicious cultural influence of Psychoanalysis and hatred is entirely justified. I have to say, considering your oft mentioned disdain for the other 2 pillars of the Materialist weltanschauung -Darwin & Marx-,I'm somewhat surprised by your sympathetic take on Freud. I guess that's just an example of Weber the Lesser's aphorism "O Gott, wie groß ist dein Tiergarten! Noch so viele Denkmäler haben dort Platz."

    , @peterike

    Blame for the fact that Freudianism became a destructive force is not something that can be wholly laid at Freud’s feet.
     
    Freud was quite deliberately trying to undermine Christian civilization -- gee, what a surprise. So yeah, everything destructive about Freudianism was completely deliberate and can be laid at Freud's clawed feet. I suppose he never imagined how well it would all work out, from his perspective.
  226. @Dumbo
    That wouldn't be so bad if Bloom had not included Freud in his literary canon. Freud... I mean, granted, psychoanalysis and Freudian theories had a great influence in literature at the time (perhaps much more than it should), but Freud's writing is... well, not really something that should be considered first-rate by anyone.

    I certainly prefer T. S. Eliot. Well, the Four Quarters.

    His little book about cats, I don't really like that one so much.

    The Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats was written for Eliot’s godchildren. You had might as well disdain Tolkien for having written Roverandom, or disdain Kenny Loggins’ songwriting because “Return to Pooh Corner” has childish sensibilities….

    In the event, they knew their audiences and these are charming pieces for small children. (I expect perhaps you have none.)

  227. @Alden
    Depends; those Robert Parker Spencer for Hire books have very wide margins. Then content, sentence structure vocabulary. Not John LeCarre, but Robert Parker yes. Do eyes move when reading? I just look at the whole page all the time. I think. I don’t really know

    Do eyes move when reading? I just look at the whole page all the time. I think. I don’t really know

    Indeed eyes do move while reading. Speed of reading can be improved by constant eye and moving text (digital formats mostly), but iirc you run into short term memory threshold relatively quickly.

  228. @Dacian Julien Soros
    Having a shorter work week, or a guaranteed free place in a old people's home is unrelated, if not somewhat opposite, to discussing the etymology of "blackouts". The former is related to Marxism, the latter - to Onanism.

    Wankers of the world, unite!

  229. @Intelligent Dasein
    I do not quite understand the rampant Freud hatred that crops up so frequently on this blog. It is not warranted even though there is plenty to be cautious about when reading him. Freud very much deserves a place of esteem in the Western intellectual tradition.

    For one thing, for a physician, Freud wrote persuasively and uncommonly well. His prose is lambent and soothing and exceptionally clear. It is a pleasure to read or to hear.

    For another thing, while Freud stands open to the charge that what's new in him isn't true and what's true in him isn't new, that is not to say that there isn't quite a bit of truth in him. There is.

    For a third thing, when Freud needed to fill up the gaps in his knowledge with inference or speculation, his derivations usually went amiss and veered into dangerous territory; however, this was a personal failing of his which should have been corrected by other psychiatrists. Blame for the fact that Freudianism became a destructive force is not something that can be wholly laid at Freud's feet. Everybody makes mistakes, and it belongs to great minds to make great mistakes. The rest of the field must not be absolved

    I do not quite understand the rampant Freud hatred that crops up so frequently on this blog. It is not warranted even though there is plenty to be cautious about when reading him. Freud very much deserves a place of esteem in the Western intellectual tradition.

    You have not the measure of Freud’s sheer mendacity. I don’t think a positive assessment of Freud can survive acquaintance with the last 40 years of Freud scholarship. Esterson, Wilcocks, Scharnberg, MacMillan, Cioffi and Swales have demonstrated beyond cavil that much of Freud’s case histories are sheer fabrication – not self-deception, but out and out lies. Add to this ,the pernicious cultural influence of Psychoanalysis and hatred is entirely justified. I have to say, considering your oft mentioned disdain for the other 2 pillars of the Materialist weltanschauung -Darwin & Marx-,I’m somewhat surprised by your sympathetic take on Freud. I guess that’s just an example of Weber the Lesser’s aphorism “O Gott, wie groß ist dein Tiergarten! Noch so viele Denkmäler haben dort Platz.”

    • Replies: @Jack D
    Nah it's cause he is a Joo.
    , @Intelligent Dasein

    I have to say, considering your oft mentioned disdain for the other 2 pillars of the Materialist weltanschauung -Darwin & Marx-,I’m somewhat surprised by your sympathetic take on Freud.
     
    Oft as in never?

    I've never said anything disdainful of Marx, so I'm not sure where you're getting that one from. My opinion, like that of many others here in these comments, is that while Marx was wrong in his predictions and dreadfully wrong in his prescriptions, he was basically correct in his critique of capitalism.

    And Darwinism is simply incorrect, so there isn't much I can say in favor of it. But still, I've never said anything disdainful of Darwin, either. I do disdain HBD idiots, because they deserve it.
  230. @Intelligent Dasein
    I do not quite understand the rampant Freud hatred that crops up so frequently on this blog. It is not warranted even though there is plenty to be cautious about when reading him. Freud very much deserves a place of esteem in the Western intellectual tradition.

    For one thing, for a physician, Freud wrote persuasively and uncommonly well. His prose is lambent and soothing and exceptionally clear. It is a pleasure to read or to hear.

    For another thing, while Freud stands open to the charge that what's new in him isn't true and what's true in him isn't new, that is not to say that there isn't quite a bit of truth in him. There is.

    For a third thing, when Freud needed to fill up the gaps in his knowledge with inference or speculation, his derivations usually went amiss and veered into dangerous territory; however, this was a personal failing of his which should have been corrected by other psychiatrists. Blame for the fact that Freudianism became a destructive force is not something that can be wholly laid at Freud's feet. Everybody makes mistakes, and it belongs to great minds to make great mistakes. The rest of the field must not be absolved

    Blame for the fact that Freudianism became a destructive force is not something that can be wholly laid at Freud’s feet.

    Freud was quite deliberately trying to undermine Christian civilization — gee, what a surprise. So yeah, everything destructive about Freudianism was completely deliberate and can be laid at Freud’s clawed feet. I suppose he never imagined how well it would all work out, from his perspective.

    • Replies: @Corvinus
    "Freud was quite deliberately trying to undermine Christian civilization."

    I have to admit, projection is your strong suit.
  231. @peterike

    I’m not deeply versed in older waves of scholarship coming out of English departments, but another thing they would do is read the author’s biography against his works and read his themes and preoccupations in light of his life events. That is also an exercise of limited value.
     
    Well, everything is ultimately of limited value. But putting a literary work in the context of the author's life and times, if done well, is one of the most illuminating things you can do to give someone a deeper feel for a work of literature or a specific author's work. Historical context is hugely important, and today's students especially know bupkiss about history. It can even inform a work's symbolism (e.g. the color white is generally associated with evil in Herman Melville. Well guess what, his father died as a result of getting stuck in a snow storm. That single factoid is more interesting than fifty volumes of crit theory.)

    There is also still a great deal of hard-slogging work available in literature departments. There are major and minor authors aplenty about whom we know little -- Shakespeare being one. There are still key pieces of information waiting to be found in archives, private collections, etc., but that takes effort. It's much easier to just put Shakespeare into your grievance meat grinder and come out with the usual sausage.

    Now about this quote from Steve:

    So by insisting upon the requirement the literature teachers be conversant in an ugly, graceless vocabulary of “theory,” you can drive away many people who would love to teach students about the most beautiful writing of history.
     
    Yes, but you miss the more important point. What theory and grievance has done is not just discourage teachers, it's discouraged students. Who wants to sit through multiple years of graduate school churning out tiresome, paint-by-numbers grievance term papers or listening to one professor after another saying the same damn thing. The last thing literature departments care about is the love of literature.

    And this is the ultimate own-goal by the English professoriat. They made their own discipline so mind-numbingly dull (even offensive to many people) that they've chased away their own audience. The end result is far fewer tenure level positions and far fewer English teaching positions beyond English 101 and Basic Comp.

    Like typical Leftists, they've eaten their own children for the sake of virtue signalling.

    But putting a literary work in the context of the author’s life and times, if done well, is one of the most illuminating things you can do to give someone a deeper feel for a work of literature or a specific author’s work.

    I had in mind something a little more stifling but the new historicism is at least an improvement on the litcrit it grew out of. Simple historical commentary and annotation will alas get you nowhere in lit departments.

    There is also still a great deal of hard-slogging work available in literature departments. There are major and minor authors aplenty about whom we know little — Shakespeare being one. There are still key pieces of information waiting to be found in archives, private collections, etc., but that takes effort. It’s much easier to just put Shakespeare into your grievance meat grinder and come out with the usual sausage.

    The problem for emerging English PhDs is they have to produce a dissertation that establishes them within a recognized subfield and advertises their ability to teach specific canonical authors/recognized extracanonical brownpeople add-ons. Then they end up as professors with…very standard canonical/brownpeople studies teaching obligations and emerging English PhDs among their students who have to be guided in the same direction. So you can do new work on new stuff but the gravitational pull is still to the canon or, depending on your job, to those extracanonical authors that define the new racialized/postcolonial subfields.

    What theory and grievance has done is not just discourage teachers, it’s discouraged students.

    To be fair, it has discouraged one sort of student but encouraged another. Which is even worse.

    And this is the ultimate own-goal by the English professoriat. They made their own discipline so mind-numbingly dull (even offensive to many people) that they’ve chased away their own audience. The end result is far fewer tenure level positions and far fewer English teaching positions beyond English 101 and Basic Comp.

    Well they’ve hurt themselves undeniably, but it’s not clear to me that English in particular is losing all that many tenured positions. I could be wrong but at my old school and the others I knew they were sailing along fine. Some nontrivial percentage of those writing seminars have to be taught by standing faculty. What had happened is that other, less central languages/fields ended up buying into Theory and getting the axe instead. Also of course the broader proliferation of this and other lunacies has probably for several generations (if not forever) seriously damaged the credibility of the humanities which is now a running joke to everyone except members of the MLA (and maybe also to some of them).

    • Replies: @syonredux

    What theory and grievance has done is not just discourage teachers, it’s discouraged students.

    To be fair, it has discouraged one sort of student but encouraged another. Which is even worse.
     
    We called 'em "theoryheads" in grad school, people who loved reading Foucault and Lacan but loathed having to sully their minds with Donne and Shakespeare.Here's a joke that I recall from my grad school days:

    Theoryhead being interviewed for a job:

    Interviewer: So, what do you really enjoy teaching?

    Theoryhead: Theory, mostly. Although I do realize the need for incorporating.....whatchacallit...non-theory.

    Interviewer : You mean literature

    Theoryhead: Yeah, that stuff.
  232. @Thea
    I predict universities will go the way of shopping malls. They are relics of a bygone era that can’t compete with the Internet and related innovations. They are desperately trying to enroll quantity over quality and have all oversaturated the market.

    Only the top 20th percentile should even consider the equivalent of a True university degree. Most Students can’t really understand or add knowledge to what they supposedly learned anyhow. How does this benefit society as a whole to have millions of credentialed know-nothings and do-nothings?

    The Ivy League is already loosing its luster as it caters to skin color over talent. It’s days are numbered.

    I predict universities will go the way of shopping malls.

    Another analogy might be newspapers. They dumb down and kowtow to liberal shibboleths in an effort to reverse declining interest. They embrace clickbait pseudo-news to cut costs.

    It will be to no avail and they will continue to drift into the sunset.

    The real strategy should have been to accept a diminished readership but go for quality and to try to do something positive for their readers.

  233. @The Last Real Calvinist

    When one type of equality fails to produce paradise, a more fundamental type of equality is proposed.

     

    Excellent.

    Yes, the whole thing is outstanding.

  234. @eugyppius

    But putting a literary work in the context of the author’s life and times, if done well, is one of the most illuminating things you can do to give someone a deeper feel for a work of literature or a specific author’s work.
     
    I had in mind something a little more stifling but the new historicism is at least an improvement on the litcrit it grew out of. Simple historical commentary and annotation will alas get you nowhere in lit departments.

    There is also still a great deal of hard-slogging work available in literature departments. There are major and minor authors aplenty about whom we know little — Shakespeare being one. There are still key pieces of information waiting to be found in archives, private collections, etc., but that takes effort. It’s much easier to just put Shakespeare into your grievance meat grinder and come out with the usual sausage.
     
    The problem for emerging English PhDs is they have to produce a dissertation that establishes them within a recognized subfield and advertises their ability to teach specific canonical authors/recognized extracanonical brownpeople add-ons. Then they end up as professors with...very standard canonical/brownpeople studies teaching obligations and emerging English PhDs among their students who have to be guided in the same direction. So you can do new work on new stuff but the gravitational pull is still to the canon or, depending on your job, to those extracanonical authors that define the new racialized/postcolonial subfields.

    What theory and grievance has done is not just discourage teachers, it’s discouraged students.
     
    To be fair, it has discouraged one sort of student but encouraged another. Which is even worse.

    And this is the ultimate own-goal by the English professoriat. They made their own discipline so mind-numbingly dull (even offensive to many people) that they’ve chased away their own audience. The end result is far fewer tenure level positions and far fewer English teaching positions beyond English 101 and Basic Comp.
     
    Well they've hurt themselves undeniably, but it's not clear to me that English in particular is losing all that many tenured positions. I could be wrong but at my old school and the others I knew they were sailing along fine. Some nontrivial percentage of those writing seminars have to be taught by standing faculty. What had happened is that other, less central languages/fields ended up buying into Theory and getting the axe instead. Also of course the broader proliferation of this and other lunacies has probably for several generations (if not forever) seriously damaged the credibility of the humanities which is now a running joke to everyone except members of the MLA (and maybe also to some of them).

    What theory and grievance has done is not just discourage teachers, it’s discouraged students.

    To be fair, it has discouraged one sort of student but encouraged another. Which is even worse.

    We called ’em “theoryheads” in grad school, people who loved reading Foucault and Lacan but loathed having to sully their minds with Donne and Shakespeare.Here’s a joke that I recall from my grad school days:

    Theoryhead being interviewed for a job:

    Interviewer: So, what do you really enjoy teaching?

    Theoryhead: Theory, mostly. Although I do realize the need for incorporating…..whatchacallit…non-theory.

    Interviewer : You mean literature

    Theoryhead: Yeah, that stuff.

  235. @kaganovitch
    I do not quite understand the rampant Freud hatred that crops up so frequently on this blog. It is not warranted even though there is plenty to be cautious about when reading him. Freud very much deserves a place of esteem in the Western intellectual tradition.


    You have not the measure of Freud's sheer mendacity. I don't think a positive assessment of Freud can survive acquaintance with the last 40 years of Freud scholarship. Esterson, Wilcocks, Scharnberg, MacMillan, Cioffi and Swales have demonstrated beyond cavil that much of Freud's case histories are sheer fabrication - not self-deception, but out and out lies. Add to this ,the pernicious cultural influence of Psychoanalysis and hatred is entirely justified. I have to say, considering your oft mentioned disdain for the other 2 pillars of the Materialist weltanschauung -Darwin & Marx-,I'm somewhat surprised by your sympathetic take on Freud. I guess that's just an example of Weber the Lesser's aphorism "O Gott, wie groß ist dein Tiergarten! Noch so viele Denkmäler haben dort Platz."

    Nah it’s cause he is a Joo.

    • Replies: @kaganovitch
    Eh, hard to believe that would play a role. Fwiw , the degree of observance he was raised with, is another thing Shloymele was wont to dissemble about.
    , @Anon
    Why do you think ID is a Jew?
  236. @Jack D
    Nah it's cause he is a Joo.

    Eh, hard to believe that would play a role. Fwiw , the degree of observance he was raised with, is another thing Shloymele was wont to dissemble about.

  237. @Jack D
    Nah it's cause he is a Joo.

    Why do you think ID is a Jew?

    • Replies: @kaganovitch
    In case you're not joking, Jack meant Freud, not ID.
  238. Anon[405] • Disclaimer says:
    @kaganovitch
    I have had grave doubts about my mental health ever since.

    Perhaps grave doubts about your cousin's English professor are more in place?

    No, the Faerie Queene –as iirc was found from observing the number of annotations per page in copies belonging to some well-known critics in the early part of last century– is just one of those books a fair number of people don’t bother to read through. I mean, enough do that the fellow’s blanket statement is unjustified, but he was going somewhere intelligent.

    • Replies: @kaganovitch
    OK, fair enough.
  239. @gregor
    I left a very similar reply without noticing your post. Mormons and Jews are interesting to compare and contrast. One thing though (contra Bloom) is that at present Mormonism is still fundamentally credal and there’s no “reform” version like Judaism. And it’s difficult to see such a thing arising any time soon given that it’s very centralized and Salt Lake runs a pretty tight ship (excommunication, etc). Whether intentional or not, Mormonism is set up to pretty much force out people who aren’t serious. And (again contra Bloom) my impression is that lapsed members often don’t retain much secular Mormon identity, certainly nothing like the phenomenon of the secular Jew.

    Somewhat related: I wonder if there might be a market for a “fake” religion for conservatives. That is to say something that’s theologically lenient and consistent with modern science but simultaneously traditional and non-degenerate. Like Episcopalian but not completely gay.

    What To Do When Racists Try To Hijack Your Religion

    The Atlantic Nov 2017

    https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/11/asatru-heathenry-racism/543864/

  240. @peterike

    Blame for the fact that Freudianism became a destructive force is not something that can be wholly laid at Freud’s feet.
     
    Freud was quite deliberately trying to undermine Christian civilization -- gee, what a surprise. So yeah, everything destructive about Freudianism was completely deliberate and can be laid at Freud's clawed feet. I suppose he never imagined how well it would all work out, from his perspective.

    “Freud was quite deliberately trying to undermine Christian civilization.”

    I have to admit, projection is your strong suit.

    • Replies: @Anon
    Why do you have to admit it? What would prevent you from admitting it?
  241. @Corvinus
    "Freud was quite deliberately trying to undermine Christian civilization."

    I have to admit, projection is your strong suit.

    Why do you have to admit it? What would prevent you from admitting it?

  242. @Bardon Kaldian
    True dat.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shakespeare_authorship_question#Evidence_for_Shakespeare's_authorship_from_his_works

    Beginning in 1987, Ward Elliott, who was sympathetic to the Oxfordian theory, and Robert J. Valenza supervised a continuing stylometric study that used computer programs to compare Shakespeare's stylistic habits to the works of 37 authors who had been proposed as the true author. The study, known as the Claremont Shakespeare Clinic, was last held in the spring of 2010.[128] The tests determined that Shakespeare's work shows consistent, countable, profile-fitting patterns, suggesting that he was a single individual, not a committee, and that he used fewer relative clauses and more hyphens, feminine endings, and run-on lines than most of the writers with whom he was compared. The result determined that none of the other tested claimants' work could have been written by Shakespeare, nor could Shakespeare have been written by them, eliminating all of the claimants whose known works have survived—including Oxford, Bacon, and Marlowe—as the true authors of the Shakespeare canon.

    Elliott’s father was a lawyer (of course) and an Oxfordian. (Is that pronounced “Ox – FORJ – an”? Why isn’t it “Oxonian”?) The Claremont Study, with which I’m familiar, was a parricide of sorts.

    The secret to attribution isn’t to focus on the big things, but the trivial. E.g., Hamilton and Madison thought along similar lines and grappled with the same issues. But one was fond of the word upon, while the other almost never used it. Using that strategy, it was easy to attribute the disputed chapters of the Federalist Papers with some confidence.

    https://priceonomics.com/how-statistics-solved-a-175-year-old-mystery-about/

  243. @Anon
    No, the Faerie Queene --as iirc was found from observing the number of annotations per page in copies belonging to some well-known critics in the early part of last century-- is just one of those books a fair number of people don't bother to read through. I mean, enough do that the fellow's blanket statement is unjustified, but he was going somewhere intelligent.

    OK, fair enough.

  244. @Anon
    Why do you think ID is a Jew?

    In case you’re not joking, Jack meant Freud, not ID.

    • Replies: @Anon
    I wasn't sure exactly what he meant.

    "People don't like Freud because he was Jewish" was, apparently, I see, what he meant, and I think I should have stuck to joking as a response.
  245. @kaganovitch
    I do not quite understand the rampant Freud hatred that crops up so frequently on this blog. It is not warranted even though there is plenty to be cautious about when reading him. Freud very much deserves a place of esteem in the Western intellectual tradition.


    You have not the measure of Freud's sheer mendacity. I don't think a positive assessment of Freud can survive acquaintance with the last 40 years of Freud scholarship. Esterson, Wilcocks, Scharnberg, MacMillan, Cioffi and Swales have demonstrated beyond cavil that much of Freud's case histories are sheer fabrication - not self-deception, but out and out lies. Add to this ,the pernicious cultural influence of Psychoanalysis and hatred is entirely justified. I have to say, considering your oft mentioned disdain for the other 2 pillars of the Materialist weltanschauung -Darwin & Marx-,I'm somewhat surprised by your sympathetic take on Freud. I guess that's just an example of Weber the Lesser's aphorism "O Gott, wie groß ist dein Tiergarten! Noch so viele Denkmäler haben dort Platz."

    I have to say, considering your oft mentioned disdain for the other 2 pillars of the Materialist weltanschauung -Darwin & Marx-,I’m somewhat surprised by your sympathetic take on Freud.

    Oft as in never?

    I’ve never said anything disdainful of Marx, so I’m not sure where you’re getting that one from. My opinion, like that of many others here in these comments, is that while Marx was wrong in his predictions and dreadfully wrong in his prescriptions, he was basically correct in his critique of capitalism.

    And Darwinism is simply incorrect, so there isn’t much I can say in favor of it. But still, I’ve never said anything disdainful of Darwin, either. I do disdain HBD idiots, because they deserve it.

    • Replies: @kaganovitch
    I should have been clearer, I meant Darwinism and Marxism. I also confused you with a different poster re Marxism I see. Nevertheless I thought your anti Materialist bent was clear, but perhaps I was mistaken in that as well.
  246. @MC
    "Most Mormons are not very spiritual and not very Bible literate by the standards of conventional Christianity. I personally believe that few Mormon authorities from bishop up really believe in much of Mormon theology."

    Your contention re: biblical literacy is not borne out by the Pew survey, where Latter-day Saints outscore Protestants and Catholics:
    https://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=50374273&itype=CMSID

    As for whether LDS leaders believe our theology, I really don't know where you're getting that. I suspect you conclude that because they are objectively intelligent people (the current President of the Church is a world-renowned heart surgeon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_M._Nelson), then they must not believe in it. From my interactions with them, I don't believe this is the case at all.

    As for whether LDS leaders believe our theology, I really don’t know where you’re getting that. I suspect you conclude that because they are objectively intelligent people (the current President of the Church is a world-renowned heart surgeon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_M._Nelson), then they must not believe in it. From my interactions with them, I don’t believe this is the case at all.

    Russell Nelson is a remarkable man, but he’s also 95, and his signature move so far has not gone over well inside or outside the church. The LDS leadership was always something of a gerontocracy, but this carries things to an extreme.

    John Paul II made Catholic cardinals over 80 ineligible to vote for the pope, and Benedict stepped down when he felt he no longer he had the steam to do the job. I think those were moves consonant with biological reality in a world where our understanding of the world and the consequences of modern medicine are changing our lives on this earth.

    I can’t, of course, know what anyone “really believes”. I think that in general the LDS leadership has the advantage that since most are not paid professional clergy it keeps the careerists out, and the need to be married and have a family to hold most posts keeps them from the Catholic vice to an extent, but not perfectly.

    But I also know from observation and study that the Mormons tend to mostly recruit people that are squared away in the first place. Bible believing “fundamentalist” or “evangelical” Christianity has turned around the lives of a lot of people who were not squared away when they submitted to the will of God, and often never were. Not perfectly, of course, not in every case. If you’re a trainwreck the Mormons don’t want you and if you do get in you stay a trainwreck, from what I’ve seen.

    I was never a Mormon. I was raised Catholic and I quit Catholicism for several reasons but one was that many of its tenets were nowhere in the Bible and some seemed contradictory to me. I am not here to convert Catholics or Mormons or anyone else who is happy in their religion so long as that religion isn’t damaging me or other people who want no part of it.

    Indeed I find the structures of both those organizations fascinating. (On the other hand Scientology is utterly without interest to me). I have many friends in both the LDS church and in other branches of the Latter Day Saint movement and I pray they will be given guidance on these issues, and I recognize that the LDS organization has done a lot of good things for a lot of people, materially and socially.

    • Replies: @MC
    What do you consider to be RMN's "signature move"? There have been a number of changes since he took over.
    , @William Badwhite
    Your comments on this topic, particularly on LDS, are interesting, thanks.

    I grew up around quite a few LDS though I don't know much about their theology (beyond Mark Twain making fun of it). They seemed to be mostly your basic upper middle class white people to me, but with enormous (by 20th century umc Protestant standards) families. Also to one of your points (that they police their own), I am not aware of a single one I grew up with having problems with drugs or alcohol, nor did any of the girls become a single mother.

  247. @Intelligent Dasein

    I have to say, considering your oft mentioned disdain for the other 2 pillars of the Materialist weltanschauung -Darwin & Marx-,I’m somewhat surprised by your sympathetic take on Freud.
     
    Oft as in never?

    I've never said anything disdainful of Marx, so I'm not sure where you're getting that one from. My opinion, like that of many others here in these comments, is that while Marx was wrong in his predictions and dreadfully wrong in his prescriptions, he was basically correct in his critique of capitalism.

    And Darwinism is simply incorrect, so there isn't much I can say in favor of it. But still, I've never said anything disdainful of Darwin, either. I do disdain HBD idiots, because they deserve it.

    I should have been clearer, I meant Darwinism and Marxism. I also confused you with a different poster re Marxism I see. Nevertheless I thought your anti Materialist bent was clear, but perhaps I was mistaken in that as well.

  248. @donvonburg

    As for whether LDS leaders believe our theology, I really don’t know where you’re getting that. I suspect you conclude that because they are objectively intelligent people (the current President of the Church is a world-renowned heart surgeon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_M._Nelson), then they must not believe in it. From my interactions with them, I don’t believe this is the case at all.
     
    Russell Nelson is a remarkable man, but he's also 95, and his signature move so far has not gone over well inside or outside the church. The LDS leadership was always something of a gerontocracy, but this carries things to an extreme.

    John Paul II made Catholic cardinals over 80 ineligible to vote for the pope, and Benedict stepped down when he felt he no longer he had the steam to do the job. I think those were moves consonant with biological reality in a world where our understanding of the world and the consequences of modern medicine are changing our lives on this earth.

    I can't, of course, know what anyone "really believes". I think that in general the LDS leadership has the advantage that since most are not paid professional clergy it keeps the careerists out, and the need to be married and have a family to hold most posts keeps them from the Catholic vice to an extent, but not perfectly.

    But I also know from observation and study that the Mormons tend to mostly recruit people that are squared away in the first place. Bible believing "fundamentalist" or "evangelical" Christianity has turned around the lives of a lot of people who were not squared away when they submitted to the will of God, and often never were. Not perfectly, of course, not in every case. If you're a trainwreck the Mormons don't want you and if you do get in you stay a trainwreck, from what I've seen.

    I was never a Mormon. I was raised Catholic and I quit Catholicism for several reasons but one was that many of its tenets were nowhere in the Bible and some seemed contradictory to me. I am not here to convert Catholics or Mormons or anyone else who is happy in their religion so long as that religion isn't damaging me or other people who want no part of it.

    Indeed I find the structures of both those organizations fascinating. (On the other hand Scientology is utterly without interest to me). I have many friends in both the LDS church and in other branches of the Latter Day Saint movement and I pray they will be given guidance on these issues, and I recognize that the LDS organization has done a lot of good things for a lot of people, materially and socially.

    What do you consider to be RMN’s “signature move”? There have been a number of changes since he took over.

    • Replies: @donvonburg
    Well, Mormons aren't to call themselves Mormons anymore. They're to say that they are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

    https://www.sltrib.com/news/2018/08/16/lds-church-wants-everyone/



    The new push came from God to President Russell M. Nelson, the church said in a news release Thursday.

    “The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name he has revealed for his church,” Nelson is quoted as saying, “even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

    The faith’s headquarters in Salt Lake City and Latter-day Saints across the globe have much “work before us to bring ourselves in harmony with his will,” the 93-year-old Nelson said in the statement. “In recent weeks, various church leaders and departments have initiated the necessary steps to do so.”

    Thursday’s statement — released on mormonnewsroom.org — referred readers to the “updated Newsroom style guide,” which calls on news organizations to follow these instructions:

    • Use the full name — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — on first reference.

    • Refer to “the Church,” the “Church of Jesus Christ” or the “restored Church of Jesus Christ” in shortened or subsequent references.

    • Avoid using the abbreviation “LDS” or the nickname “Mormon” as substitutes for the church’s name, as in “Mormon Church,” “LDS Church” or “Church of the Latter-day Saints.”

    • Refer to members as “members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” or “Latter-day Saints,” not “Mormons.”

    The new guidelines also state that “‘Mormonism’ is inaccurate and should not be used,” and that the term “‘the restored gospel of Jesus Christ’ is accurate and preferred.”

    The style edict says “Mormon” is correctly used in proper names such as the Book of Mormon, the faith’s signature scripture, or when used as an adjective in historical expressions such as “Mormon Trail.”

    Still, many believing observers are skeptical that this drive will be any more successful than a similar effort to jettison “Mormon” that launched before the 2002 Winter Olympics. That attempt ended a decade later with a return to the long-standing and, in some quarters, beloved nickname “Mormon.”
     
  249. @asdf
    Don't underestimate Lesbian Eskimo lit.

    Don’t underestimate Lesbian Eskimo lit.

    The Klondike Adventures

  250. @donvonburg

    As for whether LDS leaders believe our theology, I really don’t know where you’re getting that. I suspect you conclude that because they are objectively intelligent people (the current President of the Church is a world-renowned heart surgeon: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_M._Nelson), then they must not believe in it. From my interactions with them, I don’t believe this is the case at all.
     
    Russell Nelson is a remarkable man, but he's also 95, and his signature move so far has not gone over well inside or outside the church. The LDS leadership was always something of a gerontocracy, but this carries things to an extreme.

    John Paul II made Catholic cardinals over 80 ineligible to vote for the pope, and Benedict stepped down when he felt he no longer he had the steam to do the job. I think those were moves consonant with biological reality in a world where our understanding of the world and the consequences of modern medicine are changing our lives on this earth.

    I can't, of course, know what anyone "really believes". I think that in general the LDS leadership has the advantage that since most are not paid professional clergy it keeps the careerists out, and the need to be married and have a family to hold most posts keeps them from the Catholic vice to an extent, but not perfectly.

    But I also know from observation and study that the Mormons tend to mostly recruit people that are squared away in the first place. Bible believing "fundamentalist" or "evangelical" Christianity has turned around the lives of a lot of people who were not squared away when they submitted to the will of God, and often never were. Not perfectly, of course, not in every case. If you're a trainwreck the Mormons don't want you and if you do get in you stay a trainwreck, from what I've seen.

    I was never a Mormon. I was raised Catholic and I quit Catholicism for several reasons but one was that many of its tenets were nowhere in the Bible and some seemed contradictory to me. I am not here to convert Catholics or Mormons or anyone else who is happy in their religion so long as that religion isn't damaging me or other people who want no part of it.

    Indeed I find the structures of both those organizations fascinating. (On the other hand Scientology is utterly without interest to me). I have many friends in both the LDS church and in other branches of the Latter Day Saint movement and I pray they will be given guidance on these issues, and I recognize that the LDS organization has done a lot of good things for a lot of people, materially and socially.

    Your comments on this topic, particularly on LDS, are interesting, thanks.

    I grew up around quite a few LDS though I don’t know much about their theology (beyond Mark Twain making fun of it). They seemed to be mostly your basic upper middle class white people to me, but with enormous (by 20th century umc Protestant standards) families. Also to one of your points (that they police their own), I am not aware of a single one I grew up with having problems with drugs or alcohol, nor did any of the girls become a single mother.

  251. @Old Palo Altan
    It has been in formation since 1965 and is called the Church of Vatican II.

    “gregor” wrote:

    Somewhat related: I wonder if there might be a market for a “fake” religion for conservatives. That is to say something that’s theologically lenient and consistent with modern science but simultaneously traditional and non-degenerate. Like Episcopalian but not completely gay.

    “Old Palo Altan” replied (and “Dan Hayes” and “Intelligent Dasein” • Agreed):

    It has been in formation since 1965 and is called the Church of Vatican II.

    All of three of you, then, would characterize even the present-day Church of Bergoglio as “traditional and non-degenerate”? If yes, I would be rather shocked, based on what I have seen of each of your posting histories. If no, and I have misunderstood, then you might want to clarify.

    • Replies: @Anon
    VII is doctrinally identical with VI, it just presents a giant and viscerally disturbing smiley-face as its image to the world.
    , @Old Palo Altan
    Anon's answer to you is identical to my own, but for one important point, which I think is also yours: the pretence of "no-change despite appearances", is now off the table, and the anti-Pope Bergoglio and his faithless crew are now going all-out for a true and irreversible revolution. So far it is going all their own way, due to the unexpected (even by them) spinelessness of the world's bishops. The first synod showed a caution on the heretics' part which has now been cast to the winds.

    Within as short a period as a year there will be a false church based in Rome, and a true Church in exile (which will elect a true pope at some point, perhaps once Benedict and Francis are both dead).

    But we have been here before. St Athanasius put it best, at the time of the Arian crisis, when all the bishops but he seemed to have fallen: "They have the churches, but we have the Faith".

    , @Intelligent Dasein
    The effect of Vatican II was not so much to disturb the outward forms of Christian worship and exegesis (at least not initially), but to deliberately misread and misinterpret them as allegories of progressive Leftism. It was a dastardly move straight from the pit of hell and the mind of Satan. It's like having one of those nightmares where you try to speak but no words come out of your mouth.

    And it showed just how little Christ's flock was even in 1965. Almost all the Church, including the 1600-odd bishops, were content to let the faith be bastardized in this most appalling fashion. The fact that they were all really worldlings and Leftists and apathetic sloths at heart is reminiscent of the generation of Moses and their 40 years' wandering in the desert.
  252. @Dissident
    "gregor" wrote:

    Somewhat related: I wonder if there might be a market for a “fake” religion for conservatives. That is to say something that’s theologically lenient and consistent with modern science but simultaneously traditional and non-degenerate. Like Episcopalian but not completely gay.
     
    "Old Palo Altan" replied (and "Dan Hayes" and "Intelligent Dasein" • Agreed):

    It has been in formation since 1965 and is called the Church of Vatican II.

     

    All of three of you, then, would characterize even the present-day Church of Bergoglio as "traditional and non-degenerate"? If yes, I would be rather shocked, based on what I have seen of each of your posting histories. If no, and I have misunderstood, then you might want to clarify.

    VII is doctrinally identical with VI, it just presents a giant and viscerally disturbing smiley-face as its image to the world.

  253. @kaganovitch
    In case you're not joking, Jack meant Freud, not ID.

    I wasn’t sure exactly what he meant.

    “People don’t like Freud because he was Jewish” was, apparently, I see, what he meant, and I think I should have stuck to joking as a response.

  254. From 1963

  255. @Bardon Kaldian
    C-P on old Bloom:

    I’ve read 10 + Bloom’s books & he constantly harps on these authors: Shakespeare, Chaucer, Dante, Milton, Whitman, Tolstoy, Montaigne, Kafka, Freud, Samuel Johnson, Whitman, Dickens, Dickinson … George Eliot is lavishly praised for her philo-Semitism. Nathanael West is also his favorite.

    His fave authors not listed among those “narrowly canonical” are Swift, Richardson, Hart Crane & Wallace Stevens. Orwell, Camus, Garcia Marquez, …in his view overrated. O’Connor almost great, but her Catholicism annoys him. He openly hates Celine & especially P. Wyndham Lewis.

    He grudgingly admits Dostoevsky’s greatness, but always finds a way to marginalize him (bad antisemite, bad). For instance, Bloom compiled a book of criticism on Tolstoy where he took a chapter from Steiner’s work “Tolstoy or Dostoevsky’”, but somehow “forgot” to include parts from Steiner where Steiner openly expresses the view that Dostoevsky is deeper & more significant writer than Tolstoy (or at least, more relevant).

    Bloom’s weaknesses are sometimes laughable. Just a few rambling associations….

    Bloom’s”theory” is that Shakespeare’s characters change because they overhear themselves. Actually, this is a dramatic device, not necessary for, say, novels. Of course that Shakespeare’s characters are more vivid & memorable than most of his predecessors’, but this has nothing to do with this purely technical artifice. And his Bardolatry is absurd – even when writing on Kafka, he has to mention Shake as a creator of “shamanic cosmos”. He is right in his claim that Conrad was central formative influence on Faulkner & Fitzgerald, but re Hemingway- wrong; also, he wrote on Milton basically “overhearing” himself about Shakespeare. Nothing new.

    Bloom got it right that the ending of Goethe’s “Faust” is “cultural appropriation” of Dante & Catholic mythology, but in a creative way. Kudos for that. His chapters on Dickinson & Dickens & Eliot are his personal projections. Not much insight.

    Anyway, I'd comment on some of his books..

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51OMXge-YFL._SX340_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Don't bother, a waste of time. True, there are some interesting personal details, be he mostly writes & quotes poems- not something very appealing.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51-bg5k6LRL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Read it, especially parts on novels & short stories (drama & poetry I haven't found of much interest)

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/410fXLkJk4L._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Chapters on Dante, Goethe, Johnson, Proust are great. Dickens, Whitman & Shakespeare- a mixed bag. Freud, Dickinson, Joyce, Beckett, Borges..either weird or worthless.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51%2BvYcXAHML._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Inflated nonsense, avoid it.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/5161NzVWP6L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Surprisingly readable, if you accept his weird Kabbalah scheme, a fun to read.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41pEH%2Bhmf1L._SY346_.jpg

    Good all-American book. Recommended.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41ahX-ERv4L._SX252_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Nonsense, but still funny.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51gm6QXGpSL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Surprise, surprise- good.

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/41nGuI-qT%2BL._SY346_.jpg

    He's wrong about virtually everything, but, if you want fun ....

    https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51m5b1vPS1L._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

    Western Gnosis. Highly recommended. Also, thrashes New Age.

    Thanks, your list is very interesting!

    Gnosticism is Blooms weapon and shields against the temptations (and the inherent – danger at least of – shallowness) of secularization (= cf. The Coddling of the American Mind – a book, that helps understand the losses of a mindset, which has freed itself completely from “The Other” (transcendence) and thus regresses to a childish self-adoration (narcissism). If only there would have a discourse between thinkers like Bloom and theologians etc.

    Jordan Petersons Jungnisanism is something close to Bloom.

    As is the late Jürgen Habermas’ turn to the acceptance of the Europan religious tradition as something essential for the enlightenment and rationality as well – and modernity, too. He thus coined the term post-secularism, to indicate that is is in his eyes no longer necessary to dismiss religion as such, as Freud did.

    Ernst Bloch’s Atheism in Chritianity fits in here quite nicely.

    Fromm understood this stuff too. Freud tried to circumvent it and thus got stuck in fruitless and stiff meditations on the Old Testament/ Moses.

  256. @John Gruskos

    not leftists by any measure
     
    On the contrary, they are the logical next step from your version of leftism. (And they got where they are with help from genuine Marxists, including Trotsky, Gramsci and the Frankfurt School.)

    Leftists promise utopia via the application of absolute equality to some aspect of life.

    When one type of equality fails to produce paradise, a more fundamental type of equality is proposed.

    Those who oppose their plans are the "privileged" who must be defeated before paradise can be attained.

    The history of the left is thus the history of an ever expanding definition of the "class enemy"

    For the philosophes, believers in equality before an inert God, priests were the class enemy.

    The Jacobins, demanding equality before the law, added kings and nobles to the list, then the Marxists, striving for economic equality, added capitalists to the list of class enemies, and the Leninists expanded the definition of "capitalist" as far as possible, to even include prosperous peasants ("kulaks").

    The SJWs, obsessed with racial and sexual equality, are merely expanding the definition of "class enemy" a bit further to include all White Christian men.

    Taking things a step further still, radical environmentalists consider the entire human race to be the class enemy. The presence of plants, animals, fungi and microbes on this planet is legitimate, but the presence of humans and their influence on the environment is fundamentally illegitimate and must be curtailed.

    And it doesn't end there.

    The reducio ad absurdum of leftism is David Pearce (hedweb.com), who considers all "Darwinism life forms" to be the class enemy which must be abolished and replaced by new genetically engineered life forms which won't cause suffering for others, unlike the evil life forms which currently exist.

    He rails against lions, the beautiful yet cruel "SS of the Serengeti", with the same hatred that you reserve for those dastardly capitalists, or that Marat had for the aristocrats, or that the SJWs have for straight White men.

    European Christian civilization is relatively egalitarian, compared to the other major civilization, and this is a big reason for its success. The relatively egalitarian aspects of European Christian civilization should be cherished and preserved. Monogamy should be defended, and wisdom dictates populist measures which tend to preserve the West's traditional relatively egalitarian distribution of wealth against the globalist tendency towards vast disparities.

    But the left's pursuit of absolute equality is a recipe for madness and disaster.

    What you write is interesting indeed. And The Last Real Calvinist did find one of the core thoughts of yours.

    (- This blog is amazing. The best Harald Bloom blog too, these days. No German paper came even close to it).

  257. @MC
    What do you consider to be RMN's "signature move"? There have been a number of changes since he took over.

    Well, Mormons aren’t to call themselves Mormons anymore. They’re to say that they are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

    https://www.sltrib.com/news/2018/08/16/lds-church-wants-everyone/

    The new push came from God to President Russell M. Nelson, the church said in a news release Thursday.

    “The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name he has revealed for his church,” Nelson is quoted as saying, “even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

    The faith’s headquarters in Salt Lake City and Latter-day Saints across the globe have much “work before us to bring ourselves in harmony with his will,” the 93-year-old Nelson said in the statement. “In recent weeks, various church leaders and departments have initiated the necessary steps to do so.”

    Thursday’s statement — released on mormonnewsroom.org — referred readers to the “updated Newsroom style guide,” which calls on news organizations to follow these instructions:

    • Use the full name — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — on first reference.

    • Refer to “the Church,” the “Church of Jesus Christ” or the “restored Church of Jesus Christ” in shortened or subsequent references.

    • Avoid using the abbreviation “LDS” or the nickname “Mormon” as substitutes for the church’s name, as in “Mormon Church,” “LDS Church” or “Church of the Latter-day Saints.”

    • Refer to members as “members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” or “Latter-day Saints,” not “Mormons.”

    The new guidelines also state that “‘Mormonism’ is inaccurate and should not be used,” and that the term “‘the restored gospel of Jesus Christ’ is accurate and preferred.”

    The style edict says “Mormon” is correctly used in proper names such as the Book of Mormon, the faith’s signature scripture, or when used as an adjective in historical expressions such as “Mormon Trail.”

    Still, many believing observers are skeptical that this drive will be any more successful than a similar effort to jettison “Mormon” that launched before the 2002 Winter Olympics. That attempt ended a decade later with a return to the long-standing and, in some quarters, beloved nickname “Mormon.”

    • Replies: @MC
    Yes, that is a big change. Others include reducing Sunday church meetings from 3 hours to 2, revamping home study and youth programs, etc. There's been a lot going on.
  258. @Dissident
    "gregor" wrote:

    Somewhat related: I wonder if there might be a market for a “fake” religion for conservatives. That is to say something that’s theologically lenient and consistent with modern science but simultaneously traditional and non-degenerate. Like Episcopalian but not completely gay.
     
    "Old Palo Altan" replied (and "Dan Hayes" and "Intelligent Dasein" • Agreed):

    It has been in formation since 1965 and is called the Church of Vatican II.

     

    All of three of you, then, would characterize even the present-day Church of Bergoglio as "traditional and non-degenerate"? If yes, I would be rather shocked, based on what I have seen of each of your posting histories. If no, and I have misunderstood, then you might want to clarify.

    Anon’s answer to you is identical to my own, but for one important point, which I think is also yours: the pretence of “no-change despite appearances”, is now off the table, and the anti-Pope Bergoglio and his faithless crew are now going all-out for a true and irreversible revolution. So far it is going all their own way, due to the unexpected (even by them) spinelessness of the world’s bishops. The first synod showed a caution on the heretics’ part which has now been cast to the winds.

    Within as short a period as a year there will be a false church based in Rome, and a true Church in exile (which will elect a true pope at some point, perhaps once Benedict and Francis are both dead).

    But we have been here before. St Athanasius put it best, at the time of the Arian crisis, when all the bishops but he seemed to have fallen: “They have the churches, but we have the Faith”.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    There is a word for this process. It's called a reformation.
    , @Dissident
    Thank you for your reply.

    And to the others who have replied, I thank all of you as well.

  259. Back to Harold Bloom.
    As I understand, he fought for objective aesthetic standards – against making humanities a prey for identitarian narcissism.
    This would make one ask: How did he treat Jewish authors? Has there been an article about that?

  260. @Old Palo Altan
    Anon's answer to you is identical to my own, but for one important point, which I think is also yours: the pretence of "no-change despite appearances", is now off the table, and the anti-Pope Bergoglio and his faithless crew are now going all-out for a true and irreversible revolution. So far it is going all their own way, due to the unexpected (even by them) spinelessness of the world's bishops. The first synod showed a caution on the heretics' part which has now been cast to the winds.

    Within as short a period as a year there will be a false church based in Rome, and a true Church in exile (which will elect a true pope at some point, perhaps once Benedict and Francis are both dead).

    But we have been here before. St Athanasius put it best, at the time of the Arian crisis, when all the bishops but he seemed to have fallen: "They have the churches, but we have the Faith".

    There is a word for this process. It’s called a reformation.

  261. @Dissident
    "gregor" wrote:

    Somewhat related: I wonder if there might be a market for a “fake” religion for conservatives. That is to say something that’s theologically lenient and consistent with modern science but simultaneously traditional and non-degenerate. Like Episcopalian but not completely gay.
     
    "Old Palo Altan" replied (and "Dan Hayes" and "Intelligent Dasein" • Agreed):

    It has been in formation since 1965 and is called the Church of Vatican II.

     

    All of three of you, then, would characterize even the present-day Church of Bergoglio as "traditional and non-degenerate"? If yes, I would be rather shocked, based on what I have seen of each of your posting histories. If no, and I have misunderstood, then you might want to clarify.

    The effect of Vatican II was not so much to disturb the outward forms of Christian worship and exegesis (at least not initially), but to deliberately misread and misinterpret them as allegories of progressive Leftism. It was a dastardly move straight from the pit of hell and the mind of Satan. It’s like having one of those nightmares where you try to speak but no words come out of your mouth.

    And it showed just how little Christ’s flock was even in 1965. Almost all the Church, including the 1600-odd bishops, were content to let the faith be bastardized in this most appalling fashion. The fact that they were all really worldlings and Leftists and apathetic sloths at heart is reminiscent of the generation of Moses and their 40 years’ wandering in the desert.

  262. @Old Palo Altan
    Anon's answer to you is identical to my own, but for one important point, which I think is also yours: the pretence of "no-change despite appearances", is now off the table, and the anti-Pope Bergoglio and his faithless crew are now going all-out for a true and irreversible revolution. So far it is going all their own way, due to the unexpected (even by them) spinelessness of the world's bishops. The first synod showed a caution on the heretics' part which has now been cast to the winds.

    Within as short a period as a year there will be a false church based in Rome, and a true Church in exile (which will elect a true pope at some point, perhaps once Benedict and Francis are both dead).

    But we have been here before. St Athanasius put it best, at the time of the Arian crisis, when all the bishops but he seemed to have fallen: "They have the churches, but we have the Faith".

    Thank you for your reply.

    And to the others who have replied, I thank all of you as well.

  263. @donvonburg
    Well, Mormons aren't to call themselves Mormons anymore. They're to say that they are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

    https://www.sltrib.com/news/2018/08/16/lds-church-wants-everyone/



    The new push came from God to President Russell M. Nelson, the church said in a news release Thursday.

    “The Lord has impressed upon my mind the importance of the name he has revealed for his church,” Nelson is quoted as saying, “even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

    The faith’s headquarters in Salt Lake City and Latter-day Saints across the globe have much “work before us to bring ourselves in harmony with his will,” the 93-year-old Nelson said in the statement. “In recent weeks, various church leaders and departments have initiated the necessary steps to do so.”

    Thursday’s statement — released on mormonnewsroom.org — referred readers to the “updated Newsroom style guide,” which calls on news organizations to follow these instructions:

    • Use the full name — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — on first reference.

    • Refer to “the Church,” the “Church of Jesus Christ” or the “restored Church of Jesus Christ” in shortened or subsequent references.

    • Avoid using the abbreviation “LDS” or the nickname “Mormon” as substitutes for the church’s name, as in “Mormon Church,” “LDS Church” or “Church of the Latter-day Saints.”

    • Refer to members as “members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” or “Latter-day Saints,” not “Mormons.”

    The new guidelines also state that “‘Mormonism’ is inaccurate and should not be used,” and that the term “‘the restored gospel of Jesus Christ’ is accurate and preferred.”

    The style edict says “Mormon” is correctly used in proper names such as the Book of Mormon, the faith’s signature scripture, or when used as an adjective in historical expressions such as “Mormon Trail.”

    Still, many believing observers are skeptical that this drive will be any more successful than a similar effort to jettison “Mormon” that launched before the 2002 Winter Olympics. That attempt ended a decade later with a return to the long-standing and, in some quarters, beloved nickname “Mormon.”
     

    Yes, that is a big change. Others include reducing Sunday church meetings from 3 hours to 2, revamping home study and youth programs, etc. There’s been a lot going on.

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to All Steve Sailer Comments via RSS